By Teslim Olawore
Since Nigeria got her independence from the British in 1960, Nigeria has never had a female president or vice–president. Oby Ezekwesili, a former World Bank Vice President, anti-corruption campaigner and one of the Nigerian status quo’s fiercest critics, is setting out to break the iceberg and occupy the highest office.
A seasoned public servant and fearless campaigner, Madam Katryn Ezekwesili, or ‘Aunty Oby’ as she is fondly called by most people, was born on April 23, 1963 in the eastern state of Anambra . From her earliest stages, she seemed to enjoy an education that primed her for a life of public service.
After bagging a Bachelor’s Degree from the famed University of Nigeria, Nsukka. She holds a Master’s Degree in International Law and Diplomacy from the University of Lagos, as well as a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.
She started her career as a chartered accountant and was the co-founder of Transparency International, a global anti-corruption group, before working with Professor Jeffrey Sachs at the Centre for International Development at Harvard.
Before joining the World Bank in the year 2007, Ezekwesili worked and held several positions within the Country. She was Special Assistant to the President of Nigeria on Budget Monitoring and Price Intelligence, Minister of Mineral Resources and later Minister for Education. It was during this time she earned the moniker ‘Madam Due Process’ for her dedication to cleaning up the process of public procurement and contracting at the federal level, a feature that has never been a strong point of successive Nigerian governments.
As a former vice-president of the World Bank’s Africa Region, Ezekwesili recently acted as Senior Advisor on Africa Economic Development Policy at the Open Society Foundations in New York, assisting the Mano River governments with economic policy reforms. Ezekwesili is one of the federal government’s most feared critics who uses every opportunity to criticise governments wrongdoing. She is never quiet on policy issues of public importance, corruption or human rights abuses. As co-founder of the advocacy group Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG), she drew global attention to the rescue of the remaining Chibok schoolgirls who were kidnapped in April 2014 by members of the terrorist group Boko Haram.
For her activism and anti-corruption sitruggles, Ezekwesili was recently shortlisted for the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize by the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO). In a rather unexpected move, Oby Ezekwesili declared her intention to run for the office of president with the aim of bringing down the old order and building up a new Nigeria.
In her words, she said, “I want to run for and win the 2019 presidential election to serve and put the citizens first by mobilising and taking decisive action on a number of big ideas that will help all of us build an exceptional nation that our future generations will be proud to call their own”. Ezekwesili under the umbrella of, the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, will be seeking to unseat incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari.