Oby Ezekwesili Challenges FG to a “Public Debate of the Facts”



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By Danlami Nmodu

Nigeria’s former minister of education  and the first head of the Due Process Office ,Dr Oby Ezekwesili has challenged the federal government to a public debate of the facts raised in her  recent lecture that has elicited angry riposte from the government.

Ezekwesili in a statement today said she remains “resolute in demanding full disclosure and accountability by the Federal Government on the issues of poor management of oil revenues- especially the Excess Crude Account and the Foreign Reserve Account. The recent reaction by the spokes person of the Administration failed to respond responsibly to my demand for accountability.”

After recalling some of the fact she reeled out  at the UNN Convocation lecture ,Ezekwesili  announced she has already asked the FG for a debate:

“I have already asked  the Federal Government to a PUBLIC DEBATE of the FACTS raised in my speech. Such an open debate of facts and figures of oil revenue since 2007 would help situate public accountability as the centerpoint of our democracy. In accepting to publicly debate the questions raised in my speech, the Federal Government would model the democratic culture of responding to citizens’ demands for accountability especially at a time when the general public is eager for improvements in the good governance records of the Administration.”

Related:Say No to Gagging : Ezekwesili Questions Frittering of $45b Foreign Reserves Post-Obasanjo
“I wish to reassure Nigerians that my integrity and transparent record in public office can never be tarnished by  baseless allegations regarding my ten months as Minister of Education. Citizens who follow Education sector closely will know that the Education Sector budget which the Government spokesperson carelessly referred to represents the consolidated direct budgetary allocation by the National Assembly to the 22 parastatals plus all the Federal Universities, Polythecnics and Colleges of Education in the country. At no time does a sitting Minister of Education have access to the Budgets of statutory bodies under her Ministry. The records are at the Ministry for the relevant National Assembly Committees and the general public to scrutinize.”

Read the full text of her statement below:

Official Statement By Oby Ezekwesili

I remain resolute in demanding full disclosure and accountability by the Federal Government on the issues of poor management of oil revenues- especially the Excess Crude Account and the Foreign Reserve Account. The recent reaction by the spokes person of the Administration failed to respond responsibly to my demand for accountability.

In my Convocation Lecture at the University of Nigeria, I had stated concerning the poor manangement of oil revenues as follows :

“While these countries moved up the manufacturing and economic development ladder in my fifty years of existence all I can say for Nigeria is that during the same period I have known at least five cycles of commodity booms that offered us rare opportunities to use revenues generated from oil to transform our economy.  Sadly, each cycle ended up sliding us farther down the productivity ladder. 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 even as I speak today and it is more egregious than the other periods in revealing that we learned absolutely nothing from the previous massive failures. Furthermore, it is happening back to back with the squandering of the significant sum of $45 Billion in foreign reserve account and another $22Billion in the Excess Crude Account being direct savings from increased earnings from oil that the Obasanjo 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.   One cannot but ask, what exactly does Nigeria convey with this level of brazen misappropriation of public resources? Where did all that money go? Where is the accountability for the use of both these resources plus the additional several hundred billions of dollars realized from oil sale by the two administrations that have governed our nation in the last six years? How were these resources applied or more appropriately, misapplied? Tragic choices! Yes. Our national dignity continues to be degraded by cycles of stagnation because of the terrible choices my generation and those before repeatedly make as a result of free oil money. The wealth and poverty of a nation never found a better Symbol!”

I have already asked  the Federal Government to a PUBLIC DEBATE of the FACTS raised in my speech. Such an open debate of facts and figures of oil revenue since 2007 would help situate public accountability as the centerpoint of our democracy. In accepting to publicly debate the questions raised in my speech, the Federal Government would model the democratic culture of responding to citizens’ demands for accountability especially at a time when the general public is eager for improvements in the good governance records of the Administration.

I wish to reassure Nigerians that my integrity and transparent record in public office can never be tarnished by  baseless allegations regarding my ten months as Minister of Education. Citizens who follow Education sector closely will know that the Education Sector budget which the Government spokesperson carelessly referred to represents the consolidated direct budgetary allocation by the National Assembly to the 22 parastatals plus all the Federal Universities, Polythecnics and Colleges of Education in the country. At no time does a sitting Minister of Education have access to the Budgets of statutory bodies under her Ministry. The records are at the Ministry for the relevant National Assembly Committees and the general public to scrutinize.


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