Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, western Nigeria has accused the Nigerian Minister of Finance and Co-ordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, of frustrating state governments in the country by denying them access to funds for development.
Fashola said Okonjo-Iweala’s actions are political and meant to starve states of funds for development primarily to create financial challenges in states ahead of the elections.
The governor, who was at the State House of Assembly Tuesday evening, to inform the lawmakers about the current state of the Nigerian economy, lamented that the economy had been run aground by the President Goodluck Jonathan administration and that as a result, the state has to maintain some level of austerity.
“Today the Honourable Minister for Finance, if any honour still attaches to her actions, has stopped Nigerian banks from funding state governments because of elections, as if the needs of the people for roads, healthcare, drugs, education and security has stopped.
“She has insisted that inspite of individual appraisals of each bank by their credit committees, all State requests for funding by banks must be approved by her Ministry.
“To the best of my knowledge, she has not granted any of the requests submitted to her for approval in her new coordinating role as the retail banker for the Nigerian economy.
“A recent study that I commissioned just two months ago shows that construction workers are losing their jobs in the thousands across the country.
“Reports from four major construction companies show that a total of 5,170 local workers and 450 expatriate workers have been laid off between December 2014 and February 2015 and there will be more to follow, from only four companies.
“Your guess is then as good as mine about what is happening in several other hundreds of middle and small construction companies.