Former Vice President (Africa) at the World Bank and Minister under former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration, Dr Oby Ezekwesili, yesterday said the squandering of $45 billion in foreign reserve account and $22 billion in Excess Crude Account by the two subsequent administrations after Olusegun Obasanjo’s was a clear proof of Nigeria’s failure to make the right developmental choices.
Ezekwesili, who stated this while delivering a convocation lecture of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, said Nigerians had lost dignity because of ravaging poverty arising from poor choices of the elite, corruption and lack of investment in education.
She recalled that Nigeria had enjoyed five cycles of oil boom since independence, but bemoaned the failure of governments to convert oil income to renewable assets through training of human capital, development of other sectors or investment in foreign assets as other resource-rich countries did with their oil income.
Ezekwesili, who was a founding director of Transparency International, also said “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 and it is more egregious than the other periods in revealing that we learned absolutely nothing from the previous massive failures.”
The former minister of solid minerals lamented the “squandering of the significant sum of $45 billion in foreign reserve account and another $22 billion in 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”.
She added, “One cannot but ask what exactly does this level of brazen misappropriation of public resources symbolize? Where did all that money go? Where is the accountability for the use of these resources and the additional several hundred dollars realized 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? Tragic choices.”
Ezekwesili therefore charged graduating students of UNN and other educated young people, to become the Turning Point generation of young and educated Nigerians willing to make the right choices by serving or having a say in political affairs of the country.