|Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s Minister of finance during the weekend told an American television reporter that she was tired of speaking about the over 234 abducted school girls from Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State.|
|Nigeria’s Minister Of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala|
“I’m tired of the same stories” she told the reporter in an unplanned interview at the World Economic Forum meeting in Abuja.
The minister, who said she was not competent to speak on the issue because she is not the government spokesman, realised her mistake and decided to give some explanations on government’s effort so far.
When asked about Amnesty International’s report which alleged that Nigerian military received advance warning before the kidnapping but failed to act, Okonjo-Iweala, said; “I cannot answer those questions. I am the minister of finance. I can only tell you about the full commitment of the government and the pledge of the international community as demonstrated by this conference”.
When the reporter asked her what the government was doing in bringing back the girls, the minister said “everything was being done.
“The government has sent out additional troops, the government is doing aerial surveillance, the government is working with companies that have satellite, the government is working with the U; is waiting for the promised help from all the sources that have pledged.
“The government, with the private sector, has supported the initiatives lunched here for Safe Schools for our children. So, the government is doing the maximum it can, it has opened the crises centre so that they can provide up-to-date information. Everything is being done, like I said terror will win when we divide” she said.
The minister said the objective of Boko Haram, the extremist group responsible for the abductions, was to stop the world community from coming to Nigeria.
“That’s why they did that; and the world community said, ‘No, we will come to support our girls.’ And they’ve come in solidarity. This is the largest ever world economic forum conference ever after Davos,” she added.
The minister then broke off from the interview as the ABC reporter pressed for specific details of the government’s engagement with Boko Haram, advising him instead to speak to Nigerian military authorities.
That explanation appeared of little help as hours later, ABC News published its story headlined, “Nigeria official says she’s tired of talking about the kidnapped girls”.
Apparently to pre-empt a backlash, the minister released a transcript of the interview on her Facebook page late Saturday; but the transcript excluded the initial exchange with the journalist.
The Nigerian government has come under intense scrutiny over its handling of the kidnapping after it took more than two weeks for President Goodluck Jonathan to respond to the raid.
A day after the incident, Mr. Jonathan was photographed singing and dancing at a political rally in Kano State, despite at least 75 people having been killed in a car bomb in Abuja on the same day the kidnapping occured.
Mr. Jonathan has said the abduction of the school girls is the “beginning of end” of Boko Haram.