Vanguard (Lagos)

17 December 2012

Nigeria: Why They Kidnapped My Mother - Okonjo-Iweala

Photo: This Day
A gang of armed men has seized 83-year-old Kamene Okonjo, left, mother of Nigerian finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

Abuja — Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, yesterday, revealed that her mother, Prof. Kamene Konjo, was kidnapped by those who accused her (minister) of delaying fuel subsidy payment and for failing to release SURE-P funds.

She told newsmen in Abuja that her mother was held for five days without food or water, describing her survival as a miracle by God in answer to the prayers of Nigerians.

Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, who described her mother as a courageous woman, said the experience has strengthened her love and faith in Nigeria, while insisting that the position of government that only verified fuel import transactions would be paid remained unchanged.

She said: "I want to say that I feel very proud of my country; ordinary Nigerians who really supported throughout and also the work of the security forces. It gives me encouragement. The experience has strengthened my faith and my love for this country.

"I would like to say a few words on my mother's experience. I will not say too much but as you know investigations are still ongoing on what has happened.

"I can tell you one thing that my mother Prof. Okonjo, is a very courageous woman and God was with her because she suffered a great deal.

'She was starved'

"She was taken away and kept for five days without food or water. For an 83-year-old woman, it is a miracle. So when I said God has performed a miracle you know what I am talking about.

"She came back to us and she is alive and doing well; and my father the Obi of Ogwashi-Ukwu, Prof. Okonjo, and my mother want to use this medium to express their sincere thanks to Nigerians and gratitude to the Almighty God that she came out of this ordeal.

"While she was there, she kept asking what it was all about and she was told that her daughter did not pay subsidy money and did not make payment for certain parts of the SURE-P programme. Those were the two things that were said.

"I just want to clarify that as you all know, in the case of payment of oil subsidy money, we have been paying marketers who have been verified by the Aig Imoukhuede Committee that their transactions are clean and that we can pay.

Says no going back on subsidy verification

"We have done that and will continue to do that and for those transactions that are not verified, the government's position is that if they are not verified then we will not be able to pay and that position continues. And I think it is the position of Nigerians, as well.

"The case of the SURE-P is a totally different one. With the special committee that was set up, it does not come via the normal Ministry of Finance process. It goes through other processes over which I do not have control.

"This government of Dr. Jonathan is determined to do the right thing. We will continue to do the right thing."

The minister expressed sadness over the death of Patrick Yakowa, former Governor of Kaduna State and former National Security Adviser, Owoye Azazi, who she said were people she knew personally.

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