16 August 2017

Nigeria Heading the Way of Rwanda, DRC, Warns Ezekwesili

Photo: Premium Times
Oby Ezekwesili

Enugu — Former Minister of Education and Convener of the Bring Back Our Girls Group, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, Tuesay said Nigeria would go the way of Rwanda or Democratic Republic of Congo if nothing urgent was done to address the lingering political and economic crisis facing the nation.

She said the country needs policies to address the economic inequalities in the country insisting that the problem with the country was not technical but "governance failure"

Speaking at the Big Ideas Podium organised by the African Heritage Institution, Enugu with the theme 'Nigeria: The Economics of Failure', Ezekwesili said the fundamental problem facing the country is not as a result of its political structure but the failure of the ruling elite to deliver good governance to the people.

"The obsession with politics is a divisionary strategy of the ruling class every time which favours the rapacious elite to distract the suffering mass with politics" she said.

According to Ezekwesili, the country stands precarious and uncertain of the future that awaits her which is why many Nigerians have continued to consider her a failure.

"Nigeria presently is not sustainable. Something radically different must happen.

Political restructuring will not solve our problems because the content will remain the same and the outcome this time around will be disastrous. We need economic governance as the basis for any political grouping the country may need," she said.

Continuing she said: "For Nigeria to survive, it must overthrow the existing order especially the 57-year-old political class and entrenched pattern. We need world class human capital not a nation of global trolls.

"We can't continue to allow a few people who have hijacked our government to decide our fate, the citizens must rise to disrupt the status quo. A well constituted non-partisan group of intellectuals must help Nigeria fight this war because it cannot be a war fought without knowledge.

"We need a conversation of economic structure, inequality and governance that comes from the people. Its time to interrogate the dreams of the founding fathers, we must think differently.

"How long will it take for Nigeria to lift 100 million out of poverty when China used only 30 years to lift 700 million out of poverty. Its time for the citizens to organise a collective action that can produce results. Today, our literacy level is still 59 per cent while Rwanda has progressed to 72 per cent within two decades since the genocide," she said.

According to her, Nigeria is the second country with the second highest maternal mortality rate and has a total of 10.5 children of school age out of school.

She expressed dissatisfaction that the government have failed to place the economic well-being of the citizens at the centre of governance. On measures to be taken, Ezekwesili said that a war that pitches the citizens against those that have held them down for too long is all the country needs at this time.

"It is time for the long suffering citizens to awake to the productivity they have and take their proper place in governance."

Speaking further, she said we must have a rebalancing of the weight of power between those that rule and those they govern because the disparity between those who have and those who don't have is worse than poverty.

"Redirecting the resources that are being invested on political discourse to addressing economy and economic strictures and inequality must be considered.

She continued: "We therefore either fight the economic war now and win it or our people will perish in large numbers regardless of their ethnicity and politics."

The Big Ideas Podium is a harvest of intellectual discourse organised by the African Heritage Institution that brings together great minds to engender national economic prosperity.

Also speaking, former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Prof. Charles Soludo, said it had become imperative for the citizens to unite and rise against oppression.

"There has to be a radical change. The situation in Nigeria now, is either you get involved or you stop complaining. Good governance is not given, it is demanded and taken," he said.

One of the discussants and INEC National Commissioner, Prof Okey Ibeanu said Nigeria and ordinary Nigerians have not failed insisting that it is rather the political class that has failed Nigerians.

"Major failings of the ruling class is their profound inability to respect rules. The quality of citizenship is also critical. The critical issue is about institutions not just about legislation but discipline. The character of politics remains a major challenge not politics itself," he said.

He further disclosed that Election in Nigeria has become a huge project for the ruling class, noting that a whooping N120 billion and N110 billion were spent during the 2011 and 2015 general elections respectively, projecting that about N200 billion would be spent by 2019.

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