Great, Let’s Account

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FORMER Vice President (Africa) at the World Bank and Minister under President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili’s insistence on transparency deserves more attention than trite defence.

Twice in months, she has accused President Goodluck Jonathan of mismanaging huge resources Obasanjo saved.

The $67 billion (about N11 trillion) oil money she claimed Obasanjo left is huge. Government disputes it in a most jumbled manner.

What we find interesting about the exchanging is that Ezekwesili had tenures at Due Process, Ministry of Solid Minerals, and Ministry of Education. Instead of accusing her of mischief, it is necessary to take her up on her willingness to render account too.

The Obasanjo administration, which prides itself with its transparent and selfless services to Nigerians would proudly account for its stewardship in eight years of some of the most prosperous years in oil receipts.

An account of those years that laid the foundation of our current predicaments is important.

“Where did all that money go? Where is the accountability for the use of these resources and the addition realised from oil sale by the two administrations that have governed our nation in the last five years?

How were these resources applied or more appropriately misapplied?,” Ezekwesili, asked at the graduation ceremony of the University of Nigeria Nsukka Class of 2013.

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala straddles the Ministry of Finance of the Obasanjo and Jonathan administrations. She has a responsibility to provide evidences about transparency without being asked.

Ezekwesili’s figures on the growth of poverty in Nigeria 17.1 million (1980), 34.5 million (1985), 39.2 million (1992), 67.1 million (1996), 68.7 million (2004) and 112.47 million (2010) are statistically unreliable.

By 2004, official figures of 100 million poor Nigerians were available.

Is it plausible for poverty to increase by 1.6 million between 1996 and 2004 (eight years), then balloon by 43.77 million in six years, an average of 7.29 million per annum? More importantly, poverty growth is cumulative; decisions made more than a decade ago are still inducing poverty.

Nigeria missed its biggest chance of minimising poverty with the Millennium Development Goals, MDG, which the United Nations launched in 2000.

Obasanjo’s administration neglected first seven years of MDG, which its missions were to:

* Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
* Achieve universal primary education
* Promote gender equality and empower women

* Reduce child mortality rates
* Improve maternal health
* Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
* Ensure environmental sustainability
* Develop a global partnership for development
Ezekwesili should attach more importance to her transparency initiative.

The administration’s accusation that she frittered away resources meant for the Ministry of Education deserves more seriousness than a challenge to a debate.

Her integrity is too important to be left to gesture.

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