by ‘Jola Sotubo
The website Sahara Reporters yesterday published an article claiming that the First Lady, Patience Jonathan had received waivers on a number of BMW vehicles last year.
However, according to the office of the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the allegations are totally false.
In a statement released by the office of the minister and signed by her Special Adviser, Paul C Nwabuikwu, Iweala said the story was “based on distorted information.”
Read full statement below:
The story by Saharareporters on the so-called waivers scandal in which the notorious news website made outrageous allegations against the Office of the First Lady is a false exclusive based on distorted information.
The website merely extracted and distorted information on the list of beneficiaries of the revised waivers policy which the Federal Ministry of Finance voluntarily published as part of its drive for transparency and accountability.
The revised waivers policy replaces the old regime of individual waivers with the objective of boosting key sectors such as agriculture, power, gas and mines/steel. The strategy is to deploy waivers as a stronger tool of economic development.
Part of the information published by the Federal Ministry of Finance was a list of state governments, private sector organizations and other institutions which were granted waivers to bring in vehicles for various events including sports festivals, conferences and workshops. This practice did not begin with the Jonathan administration.
Beneficiaries of the waivers for vehicle imports include state governments such as Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Lagos as well as organizations such as the continental First Ladies Forum which was granted a waiver for vehicles required for their event hosted by Nigeria. The First Lady did not in any way personally benefit from this waiver.
It is important to recall the fact that the country has a nascent leasing industry and no company in the sector currently has the quantity and quality of vehicles required for such events. Government is encouraging private sector organizations with the requisite focus and expertise in this area and the hope is that soon it would no longer be necessary to grant such waivers.
The resort to falsehood by Saharareporters based on a distortion of information voluntarily made available by government underscores the desperation of this scurrilous medium and its paymasters.