Nigeria: Okonjo-Iweala’s mum saw hell in kidnappers’ den

By IndepthAfrica
In Nigeria
Dec 17th, 2012
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Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala speaks during a media briefing in Pretoria in this March 23, 2012 file photo. Okonjo-Iweala, 57, was nominated on March 23 by African power houses Nigeria, South Africa and Angola to lead the poverty-fighting institution when its current president Robert Zoellick steps down in June. To match Interview WORLDBANK-NIGERIA/  REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/Files (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: BUSINESS POLITICS HEADSHOT)

Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala speaks during a media briefing in Pretoria in this March 23, 2012 file photo. Okonjo-Iweala, 57, was nominated on March 23 by African power houses Nigeria, South Africa and Angola to lead the poverty-fighting institution when its current president Robert Zoellick steps down in June. To match Interview WORLDBANK-NIGERIA/ REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/Files (SOUTH AFRICA – Tags: BUSINESS POLITICS HEADSHOT)

The Coordinating Minister for the economy and Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has described the traumatic experience of her mother, Professor Mrs Kamene Okonjo, in the hands of her abductors as horrific, as she was left without food for five days.

Dr Okonjo-Iweala, addressing a press conference on Monday in Abuja, said her mother suffered a great deal during her ordeal, as it was God that rescued her from a situation that could have ended tragically.

Apart from the emotional trauma of being violently taken away from her family and kept incommunicado for five days in a strange environment, the minister said her mother was left without food for five days.

“We give glory to God that she is alive today to tell the tale. While she was in their custody, the kidnappers spent much of the time harassing her. They told her that I must get on the radio and television and announce my resignation. When she asked why, they told her it was because I did not pay ‘oil subsidy money.’

“They also said I had blocked payments of money to certain components of the SURE-P programme. These statements are, of course, not true. In the case of subsidy payments, we have been paying all marketers whose claims have been verified by the Aig-Imoukhuede Committee after going through the necessary processes. ”

Stressing that she would not be deterred to do what is right, the minister said “for marketers whose transactions are proven to be fraudulent, the position of the Goodluck Jonathan -led government is also clear: we cannot and we will not pay. We will not back down on this. We will continue to stand firm. In the case of SURE-P, there is a totally different process that I have no control over. This is the right thing to do. And this, I believe, is what the Nigerian people want,” Dr Okonjo-Iweala said.

Thanking God for the Almighty God for the miracle of the release of my mother, the minister said“ The Almighty has, once again, come through brilliantly for me and my family. Even during the bleakest part of this terrible experience, we believed that he would give us a testimony to his goodness and He did not fail us. · Even as we thank God, we cannot forget so many Nigerians who have gone through the same terrible experience either as victims or families or friends of victims. Words are not enough to describe the sheer horror of the experience. The best way to honour the victims and families is to ensure that there is greater focus on kidnapping and progress in combatting it. Working with the relevant agencies under the leadership of the President, I intend to contribute my quota to helping achieve this.“

“We also thank Mr President and the First Lady who were absolutely wonderful and first rate in their support and encouragement to me and my family throughout this terrible ordeal. The President took a daily interest in the case and gave directives for appropriate action by the security agencies.

· The security agencies also did a good job. They were very professional and enthusiastic in the discharge of their duties. I am hopeful that they will complete the job which they started so well.“

“As terrible as the experience was, the love and sympathy of Nigerians was constant and overwhelming. It helped us get through the dark moments of this five day ordeal. God heard the prayers of the millions of Nigerians who prayed for the safe return of my mother. From the bottom of my heart, I thank all those who sent messages of support and encouragement by phone, by email and in person. To those who prayed in their homes and organised prayer circles in their churches and mosques and offices, I say: Thank you. Your prayers were heard. “

Commending the Vice President and state governors, the minister thanked the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives as well as the Deputy Senate President and the Deputy Speaker and the international communities for staying with her while her mum ordeal lasted.

Nigerian Tribune

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