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“The average life span of a Finance Minister is two years in a country”: WATCH Ngozi Okonko-Iweala on Al Jazeera’s ‘The Stream’



Former Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was a guest in an episode of Al Jazeera‘s The Stream on Monday.

She spoke about her childhood and how she never planned to be an economist, because her father is a Mathematical Economist, and she thought the subject was very hard.

On her role as Finance Minister, she said:

The average life span of a Finance Minister is two years in a country. No one likes a Finance Minister because it is the business of saying no. It is very difficult and challenging. It was interesting for me. I wish I had seen myself as wielding power. All I saw was the job because I was seeing myself working for the country.

On how African economies can get back on track she said:

I am not a typical politician. I went in as a technocrat. I think on the continent we have seen a period when the economy was doing well, in the last two years we have been experiencing challenges. We  need to focus on the basics which are macro-economics. You must get the fundamentals like having a stable exchange rate and having  inflation under control.

She also said that she would not be available to serve if called upon by the present administration because she is “not the only person who is a repository of knowledge”. “There are other people who can equally try their hands in running the economy,” she added.

“One of the things you learn as you get wiser is to talk less as you grow older. I have spent my time contributing to the country. It will be better to live those managing the economy to do what they know how to do. There can be solutions.

I served my country for seven years and it was a great honour. The second time was very tough but it is still an honour,” she said.

Other guests in the episode were Nurul Izzah Anwar (@n_izzah), a Member of Parliament in Malaysia, Ola Orekunrin (@NaijaFlyingDr), a Medical doctor & founder, The Flying Doctors, and Busisiwe Mkhumbuzi (@BusiMkhumbuzi)

Okonjo-Iweala also answered questions from viewers.

Watch below:


  1. Amaka

    September 13, 2016 at 9:08 pm

    I respect you for that statement maam. The fact that you believe there are also other people who can do the job, the fact that you have not viewed government job as your father’s property instead a job where you put in your skills and try your very best. I respect you. Some people cannot bear to leave a position. They must seat there for life.

  2. CovertNigerian

    September 13, 2016 at 9:18 pm

    It is always a pleasure to bear witness to genuine intelligence, confidence and competence. I am a massive fan.

  3. nellyv

    September 13, 2016 at 10:29 pm

    But on a serious note, Economics as a course is very hard and difficult. Imagine what comprises of statistics and mathematics. However, is a very interesting course to study. Madam Ngoo u re an intelligent woman bt ds country has refused to see that.

  4. nnenne

    September 13, 2016 at 11:16 pm

    My role model
    I remember meeting her once at the airport. I regret not getting a signature. However, am happy, I told her she was my role model.
    Super woman!

    Am proud of those women interviewing her. especially the flying doctor !

  5. Emeka Ugoanyanwu

    September 14, 2016 at 12:26 am

    Finally being able to watch this program. Now I know that being in government in Nigeria is tough especially for intelligent people like okonji iweala. The Nigerian political system is filled with thugs n illiterate people that the do not want things to be done the right way. Am still a fan of this woman. If only this useless opposition n politicians have allowed her to implement some of the positive policies she wanted to implement in Nigeria. Atleast the fuel subsidy of then is still one of such examples.

  6. Lacey

    September 14, 2016 at 3:45 am

    NOI you are a disgrace to Havard,Yale,Africa and Womanhood !under your watch the treasury was emptied! You did not resign ,but continued to use fake GDP to lead Nigerians on, GDP which was not based on income ,but on luxury goods and shambolic spending!You kept running to World Bank and Consultants from there were on Nigerian’s bankroll! Leaving behind a mess for Adeosun! No system in place to track processes, spending on recurrent expenditure nothing to show in the real sector!no diversification of the economy in the time of plenty! Like Soludo rightly said your economics is rusty and if you like give interview all over the world! You know yourself that you failed as a Minister of Finance and Coordinating minister in GEJ’s tenure!Posterity will judge you for misleading Nigerians with prosperity news,whereas you knew the level of looting that was happening and continued to assist thugs and rogues massage the economy!you should have never taken the role the second time,but greed and aggrandization of wealth did not let you refuse the position ,so you could enrich yourself and your family more with the contracts for your brother , husband and family members! no integrity!!Get ready to defend yourself to EFCC,as very soon you will have a case to answer!

    • Big Tee

      September 14, 2016 at 4:16 am

      Story , story, story!….. dey there dey point fingers, your economy is currently handled by a “one chance” minister…..gbese with a bristish accent.

  7. tony

    September 14, 2016 at 4:41 am

    This woman is a complete failure. I wish I can see you someday and tell it to you. You watch a complete looting of a treasury. you go on TED and decieve people. SHAME ON YOU!!!! this is why OBJ abandoned you. Finance minister last 2 years but you wanted to die there. Oloshi!!!

    • NOI

      September 14, 2016 at 5:13 am

      Obj did not abandon her. She abandoned Obj. He wanted to engage in the sort of looting he was sure she would say no to. He reshuffled his cabinet. Removed her from finance and made her minister of foreign affairs. She resigned immediately. That’s how she dumped Obj.

    • Ada

      September 14, 2016 at 10:08 am

      HAHHHAHAHAHAHAA you are under going a critical sickness called “painment”.. it is not her fault that you mother is underperforming with a british accent.

  8. Ijebujesha

    September 14, 2016 at 4:42 am

    What manner of people will oust this brilliant woman for a Kemi Adeosun just because Hausa/Fulanis kept lying to them in their(Hausa/Fulanis) quest to reclaim their ‘birth right’? A people do get the kind of people they deserve. Nigerians….what a people…..what a heck of a people……….

  9. bowl

    September 14, 2016 at 10:32 am

    @lacey.Now i know you have a big grouse with this woman. On the last post about your brain dead fone-wielding finance minister,you almost convinced me satan is God.Fact remains that if you are not competent,you are not competent.Stop defending a lame duck.Wipe tribal sentiments off your eyes so you can give credit where its due.

  10. Seyi

    September 14, 2016 at 10:37 am

    Just to address one of the many non-points you made about the world bank- please tell me to whom she should have run to if not a premier institution with a congregation of the world’s best and most renowned development economists (and other professionals)? Or do you think Adeosun who primarily worked in profit making organisations (before somehow miraculously becoming ogun state commissioner of finance #yimu) is more capable than persons who have dedicated their entire working careers to international development and developing countries?
    Please park to the left and let intelligent people with sensible discourse ‘come thru’.

    • Lacey

      September 14, 2016 at 7:57 pm

      @Seyi there is theory and there is application !Nigeria’s economics does not follow a laid out procedures in theory you must look at various economic theories and review them properly then see how it applies to whatever problem you want to solve for Nigeria,building your own model!
      My dear I will not go into the dynamics as that one I will be giving out my consulting knowledge! She was running to Worldbank for a one size fits all approach which obviously is not fit to analyze our economy!Inugo!

  11. Seyi

    September 14, 2016 at 10:38 am

    @ Lacey

  12. Lacey

    September 14, 2016 at 8:16 pm

    What NOI used was a lazy approach!she could not bring in together competent young Nigerian economists ,instead she relied on her back up team from world bank,whose objective and vision is Worldbank driven! Kemi is not just using the in house team ,but applying fiscal policies as well to manage the Nigerian Economy by using government spending to manage the macroeconomics conditions in Nigeria!Canada’s economy which is even more diversified than Nigeria’s economy is in a recession! Instead of you Nigerians to hold your leaders both past and present and take the Nigeria current government hostage for the heavy salaries they are still paying to law makers, you guys are top the poor Minister of finance matter !who is working with so little!and writing uninformed analysis without proper research!

  13. Tosin

    September 15, 2016 at 6:55 am

    great video.

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