By Chioma Gabriel
PRESIDENTIAL candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, ACPN, Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili, has expressed fear in the conduct of Nigeria’s political class, saying that many in the group are not interested in supporting reforms.
Speaking at the Chatham House, London yesterday, she charged the Nigerian political class to be more committed to people-oriented reforms towards having a better country.
Chatham House is a global centre for policy research and debate on Africa politics.
Ezekwesili said being in government was merely a means of livelihood for many people in the nation’s political class.
The ACPN presidential candidate, who warned that Nigeria was in grave danger of falling into difficulties, which its contemporaries started mitigating many years ago, said that the “time is now for the political class to chart a way forward.”
She said: “The single biggest challenge during my work as a minister was dealing with the political class – they were not interested in supporting reforms. For many of them, government was a mere means of livelihood.
“At my core, I have never been able to tolerate injustice, especially when it has to do with the weakest in the society.”
...to convert varsities’ budgetary funding to annual grants
Ezekwesili also proffered solution to the frequent shut down of tertiary institutions over poor financing of education in the country.
One of the ways she suggested was to convert the budgetary allocations to universities to grants.
While expressing displeasure with the ongoing strike by members of the Academic Staff Universities Union, ASUU, the ACPN presidential candidate assured Nigerians in a press statement, yesterday, that there would be adequate funding for the educational sector if she emerges as president.
Ezekwesili explained that there was a need to reposition Nigeria’s universities to make them rank among their contemporaries in the world.
She stated: “One of the signature programmes of our administration would be TwentyTo e-Ranking. This initiative will focus on the transformation of 20 Nigerian universities and to raise them up to the league of world-class institutions within a seven-year period.
“The other signature programme is grant autonomy to federal universities, which is a core policy change that can facilitate #TwentyTo-eRanking. It implies that our government will grant full autonomy to public universities.
“Our administration will end the current centralised control of universities by the Federal Government (or state governments over their own funded universities), which over the decades stifled their growth and performance.
“Most top-ranking government-owned universities around the world are known to thrive as a result of de-balancing of the need for accountability for public resources on the one hand, and preservation of their academic freedom on the other.”