Home FEATURED DR. (MRS.) OBIAGELI EZEKWESILI ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ Campaigner

DR. (MRS.) OBIAGELI EZEKWESILI ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ Campaigner


On page 33 of The Guardian, Tuesday, July 27, 2004 appeared a story titled “UNDP Rates Nigeria low on Human Capital Development.” The main story read thus, “Nigeria is ranked among the poorest nations of the world in terms of human development…” According to the report, Nigeria ranks 151 on the Human Development Index (HDI) and falls within the low Human Development Group, consisting mainly of African nations, numbering 36 in the category.
The giant of Africa and the most populous black nation in the world, yet little known countries are all ranked ahead of Nigeria. The countries in question lag behind Nigeria in terms of mineral, physical and natural resources. The question one will be forced to ask is: should it be that way? How did we get to this level? Who are those responsible? The answer is not farfetched. Bad leadership. Yes, I know some will out rightly say it’s leadership. Forgetting that all of us are leaders in one way or the other. Most of us are very unpatriotic, greedy, dishonest and more especially fraudulent in virtually all our dealings.
Lord Denning, a most celebrated and an internationally acclaimed jurist wrote a book titled. The Due Process of Law. Part 1 of the book is sub-titled Keeping the Streams of Justice Clear and Pure. On page 3 of the book, the late master of the Rolls quoted Lord Hardwicke in The Saint James’ Evening Post case (1742) 469 at 472 and asserted thus, “There cannot be anything of greater consequence than to keep the streams of justice clear and pure, that parties may proceed with safety both to themselves and their characters.”
Drawing an analogy from this cerebral personality, Wole Olanipekun, SAN, said there cannot be anything of greater consequence in Nigeria than to keep the streams of government and governance clear and pure. Clear and pure was what Budget Monitoring and Price Intelligence Unit (Due Process) under the leadership of Dr. (Mrs.) Oby Ezekwesili, the then Senior Special Assistant to the President, initiated before moving on to become a minister.
Due Process is simply a system of evaluating the process of awarding contracts and verifying that procedure has been followed in a transparent manner. This gives equal opportunity to every Nigerian that can execute projects carried out by the federal government.
With the success recorded in BMPIU, Dr. Ezekwesili was moved in July 2005 to the Ministry of Solid Minerals Development. Again showing her rare strength of character, she acknowledged that she does not know anything in her new posting by reading a book on solid mineral meant for beginners. During her 11-month service in that sector, the ministry was reported to have attracted Expression of Interest from over 100 companies wishing to invest in the sector.
Her tenure witnessed the passage of the Minerals and Mining Amendment Bill by the House of Representatives, the privatization of the Nigerian Coal Company and the Nigerian Mining Company. Then came a cabinet reshuffle, which saw her moving to yet another sensitive position, the education ministry. Many had thought (they actually prayed) that she would fail in this new assignment, especially those who she stepped on their toes (for the good of our country) in discharging her duties.
Education as you and I know is the bedrock of any nation. According to Napoleon, “Public instruction should be the first object of government.” John Fritzgerald Kennedy added, “Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education.” It then bothers some of us to know that in spite of the huge sums of money pumped into the education sector, no meaningful results have been achieved. Rather what we are witnessing is high rate of moral decadence and declining academic standard: Exam malpractice, cultism, strikes, etc.
The unceremonious way past ministers of education like Professor Tunde Adeniran, Dr. Babalola Borishade, Professor Fabian Osuji and Mrs. Chinwe Obaji left office did not help matters. But events in her stay at the ministry in a few months indicated that probably God heard the prayers of His people. For the entrance of “Madam Due Process”, as the amazon is fondly called, left no one in doubt of her determination to make a change.
First, in her effort to clean up the learning centres which she described as contract- awarding institutions, she met with heads of tertiary institutions, appointed consultants and called all stakeholders to make various contributions to the new reforms going on. For the first time, everybody was given the opportunity to get involved.
The graduate of both the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and the University of Lagos where she holds a B.Sc degree in Business Education and a Masters of International Law and Diplomacy recently went to the Nigerian Stock Exchange, calling on quoted companies to adopt a public school each as part of their corporate social responsibility.
The idea of “adopt a school programme” is for such companies to undertake to sponsor a meal, renovate a school, provide structures, train teachers, construct a classroom or maintain and provide recreational facilities. According to Fabian Ozor, “These will ensure the effectiveness of public schools by bringing together various stakeholders in the education sector to deliver innovative solutions to the problems of failing schools, under-achievement and financial difficulty.” What a creative idea!
Accolades and awards are no longer a new thing to Madam Minister. The Daily Sun, announcing her as The Sun Man of the Year award winner 2006 said excellence, commitment, passion and vision gave her the award. Mr. Mike Awoyinfa, then Managing Director/ Editor-in-Chief of The Sun Publishing Limited, said the award was informed by her “strength of character, tenacity of purpose, uncommon humility, admirable public conduct, consistent and passionate pursuit of public good.”
Dr. Ezekwesili who also piloted the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative has turned to be a pride and inspiration to womanhood and the youth. According to Sunny Igboanugo, “Whenever some advocates of inclusion of more women in positions of responsibilities in Nigeria, especially in government, canvass their positions these days, their popular refrain is usually to point to the exploits of the new women that have been so appointed in the government of President Olusegun Obasanjo. One of such women most of them quickly refer to is Mrs. Obiageli Ezekwesili.”
Dr. Ezekwesili has left no one in doubt of her zeal, passion and commitment to Nigeria. Championing the release of the Chibok girls who were abducted several months ago by Boko Haram have once again shown the stuff she is made of. “Bring Back Our Girls” campaign has taken a global phenomenon.
Our role model who is committed to the Nigerian project once insisted, “These days, I say to people I have entered a new Nigeria. I am determined not to stay in the old Nigeria. The people who created the old Nigeria, enjoyed the old Nigeria and of course still miss the old Nigeria, wanting to hold us back in the old Nigeria. They may do all they can, but a new Nigeria is emerging and there is no reversing it.” Did I hear someone say amen to that?
According to Bishop David Oyedepo, “Those that will make it in this century are those that are consumed by their mission and the mission have consumed them.” The passion with which Dr. Ezekwesili carries out her duties has left no one in doubt why she has remained a strong advocate for good governance. Remember it was Aristotle who said, “Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.” Love what you do and the rest will be history.
According to John Madden, “Self-praise is for losers. Be a winner. Stand for something. Always have class, and be humble. How many people in Dr. Ezekwesili’s position would’ve gone on air to declare that they don’t know anything about solid minerals when she was entrusted with the responsibility of that sector? Dear reader, be humble; humility will take you to the highest place. It will make you dine with kings and princes.
According to Benjamin Disraeli, “A consistent man believes in destiny.” Be consistent in whatever you do. Be known for something. Let people know you as someone whose yes will forever remain yes. Stephen Covey says, “In the last analysis, what we are, communicates far more eloquently than anything we say or do.”
And lastly, continue to improve on yourself. Dr. Ezekwesili still reads regardless of her tight schedule. She is a voracious reader. Have you seen or heard her make presentations? Readers are leaders. Always read.
You will succeed. Nigeria will succeed. Your story will be told all over the world. It will be used to encourage men and women out there. It will inspire those who have lost hope. It will re-awaken the dead cells in some of us. But remember, all these will be possible if only you are willing to take action. Pay a special attention to your God given purpose. If you make your story happen and I make mine happen, we shall be building a better Nigeria and of course a better world. Let’s make it happen. God helping us, we will.
Till we meet again to showcase another Nigerian role model and mentor, always remember, insist, and work towards making our beloved country a great one. According to Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, “We left Egypt and we will never go back.” God willing, we will never. God bless Nigeria!

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