Former Vice President (Africa) of the World Bank, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, has described the squandering of $45 billion in the Foreign Reserve Account and $22 billion in Excess Crude Account by the two administrations of the late President Musa Yar’Adua and the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan after Chief Olusegun Obasanjo as “the most egregious” instance of Nigeria’s failure to make the right developmental choices.
She stated that Nigerians had lost dignity because of
ravaging poverty arising from poor choices of the elite, corruption and
lack of investment in education.
At the 42nd convocation lecture of the University of Nigeria,
Ezekwesili noted that Nigeria had enjoyed five cycles of oil boom,
lamenting, however, the failure to convert oil incomes to renewable
assets through the training of human capital, development of other
sectors or investment in foreign assets as other resource-rich countries
did with their oil income.
The former minister said: “The present
cycle of boom of the 2010s is, however, much more vexing than the other
four that happened in the 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s. This is because we
are still caught up in it and it is more egregious than the other
periods in revealing that we learned absolutely nothing from the
previous massive failures.”
She continued: “The squandering of the
significant sum of $45 billion in foreign reserve account and another
$22 billion in Excess Crude Account being direct savings from increased
administration handed over to the successor government in 2007. Six
years after the administration I served handed over such humongous
national wealth to another one, most Nigerians but especially the poor
continue to suffer the effects of failing public health and education
systems as well as decrepit infrastructure and battered institutions.
Resource wealth has tragically reduced your nation – my nation – to a
mere parable of prodigality.”
She added: “Nothing undignifies
nations and their citizens like self-inflicted failure. Our abundance of
oil, people and geography should have worked favourably and placed us
on the top echelons of the global economic ladder by now.”
said that it was up to the younger generation to restore the dignity of
Nigeria by making the right choices to lift the nation out of poverty.
The former World Bank executive described Nigeria as “a paradox of the
kind of wealth that breeds penury” noting “the trend of Nigeria’s
population in poverty since 1980 to 2010 suggests that the more we
earned from oil the larger the population of poor citizens.”
to her, the figures of the poor in Nigeria grew from 17.1 million in
1980, 34.5 million in 1985, 39.2 million in 1992, 67.1 million in 1996,
to 68.7 million in 2004 and 112.47 million in 2010.
her, the resurgence of entrepreneurial spirit based on hard work and
sound education are critical factors to changing Nigeria. “For Nigeria’s
dignity to be restored your generation must build a coalition of young
entrepreneurial minds that are ready to ask and respond to the question,
what does it take for nations to become rich? Throughout economic
history, the factors that determine which nations became rich and
improved the standard of living of their citizens read like a Dignity
Treatise in that they all revolve around the choices that ordinary
citizens made in defining the value constructs of their nation”, she