The pro-Buhari campaigners at the weekend paraphrased a portion of former finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s new book, Fighting Corruption Is Dangerous: The Story Behind the Headlines, to “prove” that their principal stopped sharing bribes to lawmakers before the latter could pass annual budgets. Okonjo-Iweala, they claimed, “revealed” in her book how the government led by Goodluck Jonathan [and Okonjo-Iweala] had to bribe the National Assembly with N17bn in December 2014.
Heads of the National Assembly’s committees on finance have since denied the charge. And the “incriminating” portion of the book sighted by Eyeway reveals nothing of what the “hailers” or “Buharists” have alleged.
In a 222-word tweet on Sunday, the author of the book herself warns the mischief-makers. Her tweet:
It has come to my attention that mischief makers are again trying to distort what is written in my book, ‘Fighting Corruption is Dangerous: the Story Behind the Headlines’, for their own political purposes.
One more time, it is important that people read the book for themselves. In the case of the N17billion, the book does not talk of bribe. It indicates that lawmakers increased the budget by N17billion and we had to accept that to move on, hence the term “price to pay”.
The reason for discussing what happened is that this approach needs to change. The country must clear up and clarify its budget process for the future to improve. Those like Hon. Gbajabiamiala trying to introduce lies that myself and my aides put in our own projects and lawmakers were fighting with me on that basis are playing their usual cynical games and Nigerians are tired of that!
Lies obscure the country’s problems and do not allow us to improve. There were and there still are politicians in the National Assembly trying to do the right thing. The book also points that out. Such well-meaning legislators should not allow their strident colleagues to twist matters and divert attention from the need to improve the country’s budget process so our young people can see a better side of their country.
Meanwhile, the current lawmakers padded the 2018 budget by more than N500bn before passing it last week.