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Protecting Nigeria; Sarkozy: Accusations "Grotesque"; Imagine a World

Aired July 3, 2014 - 14:00:00   ET



CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight, too little too late? Will Nigeria's new safe for schools program stanch the kidnappings

the innocent young girls? I speak to the country's finance minister.

NGOZI OKONJO-IWEALA, NIGERIAN FINANCE MINISTER: We are trying to say to these girls, we are not just going to fold our hands. We will be

working hard to get you back. But when you come back, you should find a different place.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): And later in the program, shocked and humiliated, France's former president speaks out about damning new

corruption allegations against him.


AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour.

Nigeria is Africa's biggest economy, a powerhouse propelling the region. But the news from there these days still centers on the fate of

those missing schoolgirls, kidnapped by Boko Haram militants in the north.

Indeed, every day it seems there's a new bit of bad news to report, like more girls being abducted, markets being attacked, homes being

torched. To calm fears and show Nigeria is moving to combat this crisis, one of the country's most prominent and powerful officials, Finance

Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has come here to London to announce a new Safe Schools Initiative. It's designed to avoid wholesale girl snatching.

And she's urging investors to keep their nerve despite jitters over terrorism.

She joined me in the studio to describe Nigeria's difficult and dangerous juggling act.


AMANPOUR: Minister Ngozi, thank you very much for joining me.

OKONJO-IWEALA: Thank you, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: You are here in England to announce the Safe Schools Initiative for Northern Nigeria.

OKONJO-IWEALA: Except it is for the whole country.

AMANPOUR: Is it a little late to be doing that? Or what do you think you can accomplish and what is it?

OKONJO-IWEALA: No, I don't think it's late. I think -- this is a presidential initiative that has been put forward by the president to try

and make our schools safer.

As you know, in Borno state, for instance, where a lot of the Boko Haram incidents have happened, children are actually out of school.

So what the president felt, with the support of the international communities, that let us enhance the safety and security of these schools.

Of course, in the larger context of trying to make the place itself more secure. And let's upgrade these schools so that parents can feel more


AMANPOUR: With all of this support and all this money that's being poured into it, what can really make the families of that part of Nigeria

feel secure?

OKONJO-IWEALA: He's trying to work with the U.K., with France, the U.S. and other countries, China, to be able to get more intelligence,

better intelligence, support and support the army. Troops have been increased from 15,000 to 20,000 to try and provide better security.

But this does not mean that you will not see incidents, because the nature of this type of insurgency, one single person can cause a problem

somewhere. But at least, generally, step up the security in those areas.

And then, you know, we have to work with the communities, because this is a vast area. You overfly Borno state, you see a lot of it is desert.

The communities are not as protected. And so we have to also work with them.

Secondly, there's the political angle. He has not ruled out dialogue on any other instrument. In fact, he talks of using platforms, to try and

reach those that are -- you know, those who are willing to talk.

And the third angle is the economics, which is where someone like me comes in. We have to tackle the fundamental long-term problems of this


AMANPOUR: Why has the Nigerian military wrapped up its investigation into the kidnap of those 200 that caused so much outrage around the world?

They haven't been found.

Why has the Nigerian military wrapped up the investigation?

OKONJO-IWEALA: I don't think anyone has wrapped up anything.


AMANPOUR: But they've --

OKONJO-IWEALA: You know, there are different stages of this investigation. There's also a presidential committee that is also looking

into this. There's nothing to wrap up, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: But they announced it, that's why I'm asking you.

OKONJO-IWEALA: I know, but I'm saying that that's just one stage.

But we cannot wrap up anything until we get the girls back.

And I just want to say that two days, three days ago, an intelligence unit of the Boko Haram was burst and three people were arrested, including

one of the key operators responsible for the kidnap of the girls. So that is -- and also for the killing of a traditional ruler in the area.

That is significant progress. And I hope there will be more and more of that.

AMANPOUR: Did you get actionable intelligence from this person, this cell that was disrupted, this arrest was made? In other words, does the

government know where these girls are?

OKONJO-IWEALA: Well, I cannot tell you. You know, I was actually out here when the cell was burst and I got the news. And I'm not -- since I'm

not in the security group, I don't want to say things I don't know. So I don't know whether they got actionable intelligence or not.

AMANPOUR: You don't know whether you know where the girls are or not.


OKONJO-IWEALA: No, I think that -- I don't want -- look, Christiane, there's something about the girls, too, that we have to be extremely

careful. This is a very delicate situation with a non-predictable group.

And I think that maybe this is one of the areas where we have not been able to communicate as well as we can.

You know, you're dealing with a group that is unpredictable. You don't want to say or do anything that will bring those girls to harm. The

president has told me that he's very determined about that. That is why it is very difficult to talk about these issues.

So whether we know something or not, at least we know that they're somewhere --

AMANPOUR: In Nigeria?

OKONJO-IWEALA: I can't -- I can't say.

AMANPOUR: OK, just move on.

OKONJO-IWEALA: I'm so sorry, because I don't want to say anything out of line that may jeopardize these girls. Our primary objective is to get

them back alive.

AMANPOUR: Now, I know you believe that you've been under incredible barrage of unfair criticism, but was there any fair criticism?

For instance, the misinformation that we were given at the beginning. It wasn't silence; it was misinformation about having found the girls and

they didn't find them.

OKONJO-IWEALA: I think what happened is we ought to have found a way to communicate that dilemma to the parents, first of all, and then to the

public and the outside and we didn't. And, you know, when there's a vacuum, then you have people step in.

I think it was that. So it was not that people were completely not doing anything; I don't think in a country where 200 girls are taken -- I

mean, we're all parents. You know, it's like every day I feel -- I keep wondering how do these parents feel. How -- what I would I do, if I have a

daughter, if my daughter were taken? I wouldn't be able to stand it.

So I can -- the parents are -- the president has two daughters. We all -- these children are our children. But we did not communicate that

well, you know. And I think that that is an issue.

And then, yes, the misinformation; I don't know how that happened. But all of that. But the rest -- let's not -- the issue now is not whether

we are criticized or not criticized unfairly. I think we should forget about all that.

AMANPOUR: So let's now talk about what the president says --


OKONJO-IWEALA: Yes, the issue is --

AMANPOUR: -- and what you say.

OKONJO-IWEALA: The issue is what are we doing as a government to make things better?

And this Safe Schools Initiative that has been launched with the help of Gordon Brown is one of the instruments. We are trying to say to these

girls, we are not just going to fold our hands. We will be working hard to get you back. But when you come back, you should find a different place.

AMANPOUR: Precisely. And one of the things --


OKONJO-IWEALA: As you know that what you left behind --

AMANPOUR: And one of the things that they need up in that part of Nigeria and perhaps in other parts as well, is a real share in the economic

boom that your country is experiencing.

OKONJO-IWEALA: Let me talk a little bit about that, because Nigeria's economy has been growing at an incredible rate of about 7 percent a year

for the past decade. But in doing that, we face two problems: growing inequality and also the lack of inclusion in these areas. And we've

recognized that.

You know that we have to tackle -- this inequality problem is also what has been discussed by virtually every finance minister and development

cooperation in the world. It's everywhere. But we need to focus on our own.

As we have grown, our Gini coefficient, the measure of how unequal a country is, has also increased, although we're still behind several

emerging market countries. However, what we need to do is say, "What is the source of growth that can create jobs?" Because the issue in our

country is lack of jobs for our young people.

AMANPOUR: How much of a problem is corruption still for you, is vested interests, who just do not want to let go of their privileged

positions and the money that goes in their pockets?

OKONJO-IWEALA: Well, I mean, we recognize that in Nigeria, again, corruption and governance issues are a problem. There's no getting away

from that. And it is a problem that we must confront as a country if we also want to continue growing with more equity in the system.

And I think what we should focus on -- you know, I often say to people, yes, it is a problem. But Nigeria is a two-track story. You

cannot characterize Nigeria alone. It's not when you mention the name Nigeria, the next word that comes up is corruption.


AMANPOUR: No, but I'm talking to the Nigerian finance minister.

OKONJO-IWEALA: And I'm responding to you.

AMANPOUR: I absolutely understand that it is much wider.

OKONJO-IWEALA: I'm responding -- yes, you know, I'm responding to you that there's a two-track story. That, we must confront. And I think we

must be more specific about the things we are doing to confront it.

Take the accusations, for instance; you asked me about -- sometime about the missing -- unaccounted-for money that the former central bank

governor talked about.


OKONJO-IWEALA: The $49 billion that later became $20 billion.

What are we doing about it? The president signed on to an independent audit. We called for an independent forensic investigative audit; it's

being done.

AMANPOUR: By the way, this same gentleman, Mr. Sanusi, has just been made one of the leaders of the northern area, Kano state.

And because of his economic and financial expertise, do you think that he would be a good partner in trying to help you regenerate -- or generate

-- some more economic vibrancy in the north?

OKONJO-IWEALA: Absolutely. And, you know, we congratulate him and are happy for him. This is, has been his dream, to be the M.E. of Kano,

one of the most important rulers in the north. And with all his expertise, we do hope he'll work with us, so that together we'll try to solve the


AMANPOUR: Let me ask you another question, which, again, why is reform so hard?

So hear this story: One of Nigeria's most reform-minded governors has been ousted in an election in Ekiti.

Now, of course, this was an election that was deemed free and fair, but he was ousted even though he had done a lot, like infrastructure and

all sorts of investment in that local area to the benefit of the people.

OKONJO-IWEALA: No, no, no. Christiane, now this is -- Nigeria --

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you this.

OKONJO-IWEALA: No, this is where -- no, let me say something.

You can have people who are good leaders but if what they're doing, the population does not believe in it, they can lose. It was a free and

fair election that Nigeria ought to be commended for.

And the governor behaved in a exemplary fashion; he -- for the first time in Nigeria, he called his opponent and conceded, congratulated him.

Nobody has said there was anything wrong with that election.

AMANPOUR: No, I said it was a free and fair election.

OKONJO-IWEALA: Yes, it was a free and fair election!

AMANPOUR: I'm just asking you, as a reform-minded finance minister --


AMANPOUR: -- whether you sometimes think also in the grassroots or in maybe a little higher than the grassroots there is resistance to those

officials who try to distribute --


AMANPOUR: -- the wealth.

OKONJO-IWEALA: No, let me say this. Of course, Christiane, there's resistance. I mean, I've felt it. There is resistance. You know, there

are winners and losers and the losers can dig in, if they feel.

Now, I think though, in Ekiti State, some of the reforms in education that I was trying bring, with teachers taking exams and so on and so forth.

You know, in the U.S., when they put teachers' exams, too, the teachers there were resistant. So this is a very highly educated state. What I'm

feeling is that may be, you know, the communication to the grassroots that this was -- is really good for you and will change your future. Maybe it

didn't --

AMANPOUR: Didn't go.

OKONJO-IWEALA: It didn't go.

AMANPOUR: Finally, on this note, I want to play you a video that's gone viral. It's all about misusing public funds and a certain politician,

a regional politician in Japan being brought to account. Look at what he did as a sorry.





AMANPOUR: So, Minister Ngozi, what is your reaction? This is a -- I mean, I'm putting it on a little bit humorously. This is a regional

politician in Japan who's been caught pretty much misusing public funds.

Do you sometimes wish there was a little bit more wailing and gnashing of teeth in your own country?

OKONJO-IWEALA: I want more than wailing and gnashing of teeth, Christiane. It's all nice to wail and gnash, but I think we want less

impunity. We want people to be punished if they have done the wrong thing. We want the money. As finance minister, my interest is in getting money

into the treasury.

So, no, we want more than that. You know, wailing and gnashing of teeth is all very good, but at the end of the day people have to see


AMANPOUR: Minister Ngozi, thank you so much indeed for joining me.



AMANPOUR: Now this is a special year for Nigeria as it commemorates the 100th anniversary of its unification and freedom from colonial control

as an independent nation.

Back in February of this year, the only Western leader invited to launch the year-long celebration was French President Francois Hollande,

who later welcomed President Goodluck Jonathan to a summit in Paris, pledging support for Nigeria's fight against Boko Haram.

"Your struggle is also our struggle," said Hollande. But it's the struggle of his predecessor to clear his name and save his political future

that's gripping France right now. We'll have that story when we come back.




AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

"The accusations are grotesque," so says the former French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, after he was placed under formal investigation over

alleged corruption and taken into police custody. It's the first time that has ever happened in France. And speaking on French television Wednesday

night, Sarkozy denied any wrongdoing and said the case against him is political.


NICOLAS SARKOZY, FORMER FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): I am profoundly shocked at what happened. I don't require any special

privileges. If I have made faults, I will accept all responsibility. I'm not a man that flees responsibility.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): Sarkozy is accused of seeking insider information about an inquiry into illegal campaign funding. So could this

threaten what is widely believed to be his political comeback?

And who will make the most hay out of the nation's general political disarray?

Joining me now is journalist and author Christopher Dickey, who's reported from Paris for years, formerly with "Newsweek" and now foreign

editor of "The Daily Beast."

Welcome back to the program, Christopher.


AMANPOUR: So President Sarkozy says that these are politically motivated charges. Do you think he's right or do the investigators believe

they have enough to bring a serious case against him?

DICKEY: Oh, I think they've got enough to bring a serious case. They have wiretaps of two of his cell phones, one his official cell phone and

the other his cell phone under a completely fictitious name, which he used to try and make arrangements that were, we think, pretty dubious.

Some of the transcripts from those conversations have been leaked, and they make him look terrible. In the meantime, you've got to say that

Sarkozy is a man who knows all about political manipulation or attempted political manipulation of judges and prosecutors. He used to call them up

in the middle of the night when they were making decisions he didn't like when he was president or interior minister.

It's something that he has done, that he knows all about, so of course he says this is a political attack. And of course the magistrates deny it.

He may be right about it having some political motivation, but it's also true that it takes one to tell one.

AMANPOUR: Who leaked these transcripts?

Who leaked this information from this wiretapping?

DICKEY: Well, it's like anything, you don't know exactly who leaked it. I'm sure that Sarkozy suspects somebody connected with the

investigation, with these judges who are calling him to account right now, somehow leaked these wiretaps. But we don't know, in fact, who leaked

those wiretaps.

What we do know is that the response to those wiretaps and to the evidence that they have presented to the court has been a question of form,

that the wiretaps were illegal, that they shouldn't have been done, not that what was said on them was untrue.

AMANPOUR: And does this then throw into jeopardy his political comeback? He apparently was going to do that, retake the helm of his party

and contest the 2017 elections.

DICKEY: Well, he might still make a comeback. He might try and portray himself as a martyr of the socialists and of the left wing, which

in fact, is what he's trying to do right now.

At the same time, you have to understand that President Hollande is incredibly unpopular. I mean, he would envy President Obama's approval

rating right now and if his ratings stay so low, his popularity stays so low until the elections in 2017, which is conceivable, then anybody who's

leading the opposition probably will defeat him.

So for Sarkozy this is a vital thing. The problem is that Sarkozy's own party is in complete disarray, too. That does position him to try and

take over because there's nobody else anymore. But it just may mean that it all plays into the hands of an up-and-comer like Marine Le Pen on the

far right, and Sarkozy and his party will be marginalized.

AMANPOUR: Well, that is what I was going to ask you next, because it has been said that the E.U. state at greatest threat from these extreme

right-wing parties that did so well in the European elections, such as the National Front in France, this is -- France is the most vulnerable to a

takeover, if you like.

Is that even remotely possible?

DICKEY: Yes, it's remotely possible. In fact, I'd say it's very possible. First of all, you have to remember that in 2002, when the

National Front was considered a way outlying kind of extreme right-wing, vaguely anti-Semitic, racist party, it still came in to the final heat of

the presidential elections, the runoff. That -- and it was also a very disorganized party then.

Now it has a much more centrist reputation under Marine Le Pen. And it has also built a grassroots organization. The thing to know about the

European elections and the municipal elections that preceded them is that those allowed the National Front to build the grassroots organization that

it never had before. It's positioning itself very well for the presidential elections in 2017 and nobody should count it out.

AMANPOUR: Well, this is a very, very dangerous moment for those who are afraid and don't like the extremes on any political side of the


Does France really understand the peril it's in? Or does it feel like it can vote protest and bring the extreme right in and it won't make a


DICKEY: Well, I don't think if Marine Le Pen continues to run the way she's running right now that she would just get protest votes. I think she

would get lots of the votes that Sarkozy got in 2012. The -- in fact, in 2007, what Sarkozy did was essentially try to appeal to Le Pen's voters

from 2002 and take them away. And he succeeded in that.

But by 2012, that wasn't working anymore. It's be working even less well in 2017. I don't think there's just going to be a protest vote for

Marine Le Pen. But you're right to say it's incredibly dangerous for Europe and by implications for France because she's essentially talking

about canceling the euro, about erecting borders around France again, about reimposing a kind of nationalist view that is antithetical to the

construction of Europe that we've seen really almost since the end of World War II.

So it would be a huge change and a dangerous one.

AMANPOUR: A pretty bleak outlook there. Christopher Dickey, thank you very much indeed for joining us.

DICKEY: Sure thing.


AMANPOUR: "The French don't care what they do actually as long as they pronounce it properly," or so quipped Professor Henry Higgins in the

musical, "My Fair Lady." But in fact, the French have always been fascinating by the doings of the rich and famous. And 100 years ago, all

of Paris was fascinated by a woman from high society who shot her way onto the front page, even as Europe raced headlong towards war.

The scandal of Madame Caillaux when we come back.




AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, last week we took you to Sarajevo, where two gunshots fired by a teenage boy helped spark the First World War.

Now imagine a world where six gunshots fired by an elegant Parisienne drove all talk of that war from the headlines.

Henriette Caillaux was no stranger to notoriety. She and her husband, Joseph, a liberal politician, had been lovers, married to others before

they became Madame and Monsieur Caillaux.

C'est la vie, you say, but au contraire. Gaston Calmette, who was editor of the conservative newspaper, "Le Figaro," threatened to publish

love letters between Les Caillaux written before their marriage. On March 16th, 1914, Henriette walked into Calmette's office, fired six shots and

killed him. And overnight, she became a cause celebre. And her sensational trial mesmerized the public, even as the great powers were

gearing up for war.

On July 28th, 1914, Henriette Caillaux was acquitted of a crime passionnel. That same day the Austro-Hungarian empire declared war on

Serbia, the start of an almighty conflagration that wouldn't be extinguished for the next four years and whose ripples are still being felt

to this day.

That's it for our program tonight. Remember you can always contact us at our website,, and follow me on Twitter and Facebook. Thank

you for watching and goodbye from London.