My Mum Was Kidnapped Over Unpaid Fuel Subsidy – Okonjo-Iweala

Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has confirmed the suspicion that her mother, Professor Kanene Okonjo, was kidnapped by those who wanted to get at her over the contentious issue of unpaid fuel subsidy claims.

Okonjo-Iweala, who expressed gratitude to God over the safe return of her mother by the kidnappers, said that she was kidnapped by people who felt that she (minister) was behind government’s refusal to pay bogus fuel subsidy money claims and that she was also blocking the release of funds for the SURE-Programme.

The minister, who spoke in her officer yesterday, said that her mother, Professor Kanene, was told by her kidnappers that “her daughter did not pay oil subsidy money and was also blocking payment of certain parts of the SURE-Programme money.”

The minister explained that government has been paying, and will continue to pay, oil marketers whose claims have been verified as genuine by the Aig-Imoukhuede Presidential Committee that vetted such transactions.

According to her, “For those transactions that are not verified, the government position is that if they are not verified, then we will not be able to pay; and that position continues. I think this is what Nigerians want. Nigerians want that only honest people who have been doing transactions are paid, and we have been doing that. Those transactions that have not been verified, or where it is showing that the marketers are owing government money, the government position is that we would not be able to pay.”

In the case of the SURE-Programme, Okonjo-Iweala explained that there was a totally different process which had nothing to do with the Ministry of Finance.

“With the special committee that was set up, they do not come via the normal ministry of finance; it goes through other processes over which I do not have control,” the minister said.

On her mother’s ordeal during her five-day captivity in the kidnappers’ den, the finance minister described her mother as very courageous woman, and attributed her survival to divine providence.

“God was with her because she suffered a great deal. So when I say that God has performed a miracle, you can understand what I mean. She was taken away and kept for five days without food or water; for an 83-year-old woman, it’s a miracle (that she survived).”

The minister expressed her parents’ appreciation for the concern and support shown by Nigerians during the trying period, and gratitude to God that her mother survived the ordeal. She also reiterated the commitment of President Goodluck Jonathan to govern well, and craved the support of the people in this quest.

She also expressed gratitude to security personnel and urged them to keep up the same diligence in other issues that require their attention so that the scourge can be eliminated from the society.

She commiserated with the families of Governor Patrick Yakowa and General Andrew Azazi over their death, describing their deaths as a great national loss.
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