Jeffrey Sachs, special advisor to U.N. Sectary General Ban-ki Moon, says he was misled about the now-controversial lifting of petrol subsidies at a meeting with the Nigerian President. After a recent session with President Jonathan, Sachs was reported to have praised the removal of fuel subsidy as a good move. He called the removal “a bold and correct policy” and used the word “innovative.”
But after a deluge of tweets on Twitter and other venues from outraged Nigerians, Sachs backed off of his earlier remarks. Writing on his twitter handle @ JeffDSachs, the professor of economics confessed: “I do my homework very carefully in general, for 30 years, but not on this one. A mistake I regret…I see better that I don’t know the specific details on the subsidy to be accurate… “I’ve noticed how the politicians barely care about the universities. Sad and costly for Nigeria!” “ I’m listening and learning. Most important thing I could say is government must build trust with civil society based on anti-corruption, fairness, accountability.”
On whether he knew about the level of corruption in Nigeria before endorsing removal of subsidy, Sachs said: “They didn’t have to tell me. I’m very heartened to see civil society rising against corruption. Yes, I walked out of a meeting and into a sound bite! Not good. The situation is complex and deep reforms are needed…
“I’m sorry that I’ve been misinterpreted. It’s hard to be heard accurately in this noisy world!”
He assured those bombarding him with questions that he understood what they are going through in Nigeria.The Professor of Economics said he had no idea about the subsidy removal until it happened, as he was “not in regular contact on macro policy.