Former Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on Sunday declared support for President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption drive, saying she was ready to subject herself to an unfettered government probe of her two terms in office.
The former Minister, who was reacting to media reports that she was planning to build a multi-million dollar Okonjo –Iweala family hospital in Abuja, denied nursing any such ambition.
Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala, who spoke through her spokesperson, Paul Nwabuikwu, described the report as “totally baseless”, as “the alleged hospital is non-existent”.
“Dr Okonjo-Iweala has a clean record of two terms in office,” the spokesperson said. “As we have consistently maintained, she is not afraid of a transparent investigation of her two terms in office. She supports the anti-corruption drive in Nigeria. No one who has had the privilege of serving his or her country should feel too big to be investigated.
“It is this very issue of fighting corruption that brought her back in the first place and she has a track record of blocking corruption. It is ironic that it is those same corrupt people who are trying to tarnish her image,” he said.
Mr. Nwabuikwu denied the existence of any hospital owned by Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala’s immediate family.
“Anyone who is in doubt can go to Gwarinpa, Abuja where the hospital is allegedly located, or enquire from General Electric and Perkins + Will Global, the two organisations that were mentioned as Consultants to the project in the report as to whether the hospital has been built,” Mr. Nwabuikwu said.
The spokesperson, however, confirmed that Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala’s husband, Ikemba Iweala, who retired recently as a neuro-surgeon and emergency physician with over 40 years’ of practice in Nigeria, the United Kingdom and the United States, was actually planning a hospital.
To actualize his desire to give back to Nigeria, Mr. Nwabuikwu said, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala’s husband had, for several years, been working on plans to establish a hospital in Abuja, using his savings to develop the concept and design of the hospital.
So far, Mr. Nwabuikwu said, Mr. Iweala had made efforts to source for financing for the project, pointing out that it was the prototype design and website of the yet to be realized project that was being published as a multi-billion dollar evidence of corruption against the former minister.
“Why is Dr Okonjo-Iweala the object of this ceaseless campaign of falsehoods and distortions? The answer is simple: because she refused to steal and share, and because she blocked many powerful people, some of whom are now in power, from stealing. That is why they would go to any lengths to tarnish her name,” the minister’s spokesperson explained.
He recalled that it was the former minister’s fight against fuel subsidy scammers that led to her mother being kidnapped in 2012, followed with the demand for her to resign from government and leave the country.
“The hospital idea is still very much alive. Anyone who is interested should please come forward to discuss possible investment. But there is a condition: the money must be clean. Corrupt people, especially lying governors, need not apply,” Mr. Nwabuikwu said.