Former Vice President of the World Bank, Mrs. Obiageli Ezekwesili, has said despite earning more than $600bn in revenues over the last five decades, government has been unable to improve the lot of ordinary Nigerians.
She said this while delivering a paper entitled: ‘The uncomfortable truth of elusive economic development- Nigeria’s century of old failures and prospects for a new Nigeria’, at the 1st National Summit organized by the All Progressives Congress in Abuja, on Thursday.
According to the two-time Nigerian Minister, poor governance especially the culture of corruption was largely responsible for Nigeria’s stunted growth when compared to its peers across the world.
She explained that several countries rated along with Nigeria in the 1960s have made greater progress in transforming from a country into a nation because the elite made a conscious effort to develop them.
Ezekwsili noted that the cost of rebuilding Europe after World War II was put at $148bn in today’s value but that this is less than half of the funds that were attributed to have been stolen from Nigeria since independence.
She said, “The expense of such funds transformed the manufacturing, service industry and competitive factors of Europe. It cost $2bn ($349bn in today’s value) to rebuild Japan after the nuclear attack.
“By conservative estimate, our country has earned more than $600 billion in the last five decades and yet can only boast of a United Nations Human Development Index score of 0.4 out of 1 proximate to that of Chad and maternal mortality rate similar to that of Afghanistan.
“Nothing reveals the depth of our failures than such performance indicators considering the vastly greater possibilities that we have been bestowed.”
She also observed that citizens now seek to fully participate and make demands for democratic accountability- they are not afraid to scrutinize all public institutions and to demand better results of
The former minister enjoined all those who seek politic office to put the interest of the people and the nation first before self.
She expressed regret that based on welfare indices, Nigeria was not much better than countries like Afghanistan and Chad.
According to her, the country has been rated 32 on countries with high corruption index, adding that whether we accept it or not Nigeria is presently engaged is systemic corruption and not much has come in
terms measures to put a check to it.
Ezekwesili cautioned the APC against focusing on just pushing PDP out of office by all means; adding that the party must realize that Nigerians whom it intends to govern must be alive to witness the promises of good tidings.
The highlight of the event came when all the leaders took turns to formally sign the code of conduct as a form of acceptance and commitment.
She said the recent massacre of students in Yobe state is an assault to the country, saying anyone who may be profiting from bizarre slaughter of innocent children and women will received appropriate punishment from God.
The former Minister of Education and Chairman of the Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative reminded everyone that in as much as the need to get things is a highly desired one, the application of requisite corrective measures may indeed unsettle even some who are now initiating the process.
She described the partying that accompanied the centenary celebration as unwarranted considering the floppy performance of the country, adding that what went on with the celebration “was nothing but a party
for the elite where all the leaders irrespective of the divide enjoyed themselves to the bewilderment of agony- stricken Nigerians.
“It is heart rending that the present state of affairs in the country now questions our oneness as country. We cannot develop and grow until you are bound in common sense of purpose and values,” Ezekwesili said.