The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, on Tuesday, recalled the events leading up to the establishment of the Debt Management Office (DMO) while serving as Vice President under the Olusegun Obasanjo administration between 1999 and 2007.
Speaking at the 26th Lagos Business School (LBS) Alumni Conference held in Lagos, Atiku explained that when the PDP was elected into government in 1999, marking the beginning of the Fourth Republic, the party really did not have a policy document.
“When the PDP was elected into government in 1999, we really did not have a policy document. We didn’t have a plan. We met a country that was heavily indebted, that was in crisis between the various component parts of the country, and so on,” he said.
Atiku said during a trip to the annual International Monetary Fund-World Bank conference in Washington, he visited the World Bank to outline Nigeria’s debt problem.
“(I told them) we don’t know why we’re owing, whom we’re owing, for what, what the money was meant for, and so on. In other words, we didn’t have any records in the Ministry of Finance. Then the World Bank officials said, ‘Look, we have a brilliant Nigerian in this bank.’
“I said, ‘Can you please loan her to us?’ And I was introduced to our former Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. I came back and told the president and we invited her to join us. From there, we realised had to set up what we called the Debt Management Office (DMO).
“We were politicians but we didn’t even know what DMO was. So, we sat down together, we drafted the law establishing the DMO. ‘Who would be the chairman of the DMO?’ We said the Vice President. Who would be the deputy chairman? We said the Minister of Finance. We got the National Assembly to approve that law,” Atiku said.
The DMO was established on October 4, 2000 to centrally coordinate the management of Nigeria’s debt, according to the organisation’s website.
Upon realising there was no economic blueprint, the former Vice President said, with the advice of private sector individuals such as former Managing Director of the Guaranty Trust Bank, Fola Adeola as well as Akin Kekere-Ekun, the government worked with Nasir El-Rufai to set up an Economic Advisory Committee, appointing Prof. Anya O. Anya as its chairman.
The PDP candidate answered questions on security, climate change, leadership, agriculture and other key aspects of the Nigerian economy.
Speaking on national security, Atiku said insecurity was a concurrent issue and an effective security arrangement would involve all tiers of government. According to him, the security challenges are peculiar to each region and as such requires an all-inclusive approach.
The former Vice President presented plans on how he intends to solve many of the nations challenges to the alumni association of the Lagos Business School in an event held in Lagos on Tuesday.
The LBS Alumni Day themed, ‘The Leadership Imperative’ is one of the engagement platforms hosting political office seekers to answer questions and share their vision for the country.