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Ezekwesili denies mismanaging education fund

By Emma Ujah
World Bank Vice-President (African Region) and Nigeria’s former Minister of Education, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili, yesterday reacted to reports that she was being investigated by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), over alleged fraud while in office, insisting that no fund was mismanaged.

Mrs Ezekwesili, who spoke in Abuja, said there was nothing in the allegations which was contained in an anonymous petition.

According to her, she had nothing to hide from her past years of service and was available for anyone or organisation who wanted to reach her, which was her expectation should there be any issue.

She said: “It is something I have learnt from the pages of the newspapers. For me, it is the most unethical thing to do and a totally, totally display of lack of integrity on the part of our nation. That having served my nation, I will be put on the pages of newspapers on the basis of some frivolous petitions from an unnamed source.

“It is clear that my place of abode is known to everybody and, if, indeed, there was any reason for ICPC to investigate my tenure, I would have expected them to do the most decent thing and they haven’t done that.

“I have not been notified about any petition, my attention was drawn to it by people sending me this news this morning. That was how I got to know about it.

“I don’t want to get into the realm of suspicion because, frankly speaking, everybody knows my record in this country.

“I have absolutely no desire to get to the lowly form that this seems to be going because this is the lowliest thing that you can imagine.

“But I guess that I will just keep this until I know exactly in what direction this seems to be going.

“How can you have a press release by an investigative body simply based on some unknown petition? You couldn’t weigh the gravity of such an allegation from an unnamed source against the fact that you are dealing with somebody whose character you cannot blemish in the kind of way that things are being done in this place now. It is amazing

“What fund? This ERP, I am sure the media had sessions on the Education Reform Programme and you saw the outlines of the programme that we implemented. They got a petition from unknown sources and they put it in the newspapers this way. Which fund was mismanaged?

“There were specific elements of a very robust reform programme. When I did the reform in the Ministry of Solid Minerals, I called it Agenda 107 items. In the case of the Education Sector Reform, on the comprehensive nature of that reform, the items that we needed to do were 345 or something of that nature.

“So, it was a composite programme of that reform. I don’t know what they are talking about frankly. I have read this story and I don’t get it. I really don’t get it.”

On how she would officially respond to the reports, she said, “definitely, my goodness, I am going to tell the lawyers immediately to reply to them because I do not understand the basis for this.

“The Education Reform Programme (ERP) is a programme that many of the people who participated in it know the programme. I don’t know where this is coming from. This is utterly scurrilous.

Responding to a question, she said: “Well, I don’t want to try to build anything. I just believe this is the most unprofessional, most lacking of integrity, totally unethical, and indeed, it just mirrors the way that you don’t put things in an environment that actually respects the Rule of Law.”


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