Obiageli Ezekwesili popularly known as Oby Ezekwesili is a Nigerian chartered accountant, economic policy expert and senior economic advisor. She served twice as a Minister in Nigeria, and was the Vice President of World Bank, African Region (2007-2012). Also, she was a presidential candidate for the 2019 presidential election but stepped down from the presidential race in January, 2019.
Oby is the pionner of the #BringBackOurGirls movement and the #RedCardMovement. She co-founded Transparency International, and served as the pioneer director on the global board from 1994 – 1999. Since the time of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Oby Ezekwesili have served in different financial capacity and made remarkable economic reforms in Nigeria.
Oby Ezekwesili Biography
Dr. Obiageli Kathryn Ezekwesili was born on April 28, 1963 as the first of six children. Although, she was born in Lagos, she soon relocated with her family to Anambra (state of origin) due to the civil war. But after the war, the family returned, and settled in Ajegunle, Lagos.
In Lagos, she attended African One Primary School, Ajegunle. Subsequently, she went to United Christian College, Apapa for her secondary education. Thereafter, she attended the university of Lagos, and obtained an M. A in International Law and Diplomacy. She also bagged an M.A in Public Policy and Administration from the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.
She is married to Chinedu Ezekwesili. Chinedu is a pastor at the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG). And the marriage is blessed with children.
Oby Ezekwesili Career
Oby began her career with Deloitte and Touché Akintola Williams where she worked for a few years. Also, she worked with Professor Jeffrey at the Center for International Development, Harvard University. While she was there, she worked as Director of the Nigeria Economic Support Program.
As a result, in 2002, she became the Special Assistant and subsequently Senior Special Assistant to former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Budget Monitoring, and Price Intelligent Unit. While in office, Oby Ezekwesili made notable contributions. She led an institutional reform of the Nigeria’s public procurement system by establishing due process in public contracting.
Minister of Nigeria 2005 – 2007
Oby Ezekwesili was appointed a Minister on two occasions. First, as the Minister of Solid Minerals then, Minister for Education.
In 2005, she became the Minister of Solid Minerals (Mines and Steel). As a minister of solid minerals, Oby made a reform program that gave Nigeria the global recognition as a credible mining investment destination.
Also, between 2004 – 2007, she served as the Chairperson of Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI). As a Chairperson, Oby led the first national implementation of the global standards, with transparency in the oil, gas and mining sector.
Then, in 2006, she was appointed the Federal Minister of Education where she also made remarkable contributions. Then, following her prompt discharge of duties, Oby was offered an appointment at the World Bank as the Vice President of the Africa Region of World Bank.
World Bank 2007-2012
Ezekwesili served as the Vice President of the World Bank, Africa Region from May 2007 to May 2012. She was appointed by President of World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz in March 2007.
As a vice-president, Oby Ezekwesili successfully promoted Africa’s economic interests. For instance, during her tenure, the overall lending in Africa rose to over $40 billion. She also supported and promoted extensive economic growth which allowed World Bank cater to the financial interest of Africans.
In October 2018, Ezekwesili announced that she will be contesting for the office of the President of Nigeria in the 2019 elections. With the aim to alleviate 80 million Nigerians out of poverty, she announced her interest under the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN). She was interested in representing millions of Nigerians who collectively, are victims of bad administration.
However, in January 2019, she withdrew from the presidential race citing differences in vision and value of her political party.
When school girls in Chibok were abducted in April 2014, Ezekwesili pioneered the #BringBackOurGirls Movement. The movement was to raise awareness and hasten the release of over 200 girls kidnapped from their secondary school in Chibok by Boko Haram.
The campaign drew international attention and was supported by celebrities from all over the world. The hashtag #bringbackourgirls trended on social media globally and gained widespread attention.
As a result of the campaign, some of the abducted Chibok girls were released by Boko Haram. The camapaign has not stopped for the remaining girls including Leah Sharibu, another abducted girl from Dapchi, Yobe, in 2017.
The #bringbackourgils campaign is not just for girls but for every Nigerian citizen abducted by terrorist groups.
Oby founded the #RedCardMovement as a citizen’s centered advocacy movement. It was founded to campaign against bad leadership, politics and governance in Nigeria regardless of the political party. Also, the movement advocate and encourage Nigerian citizens to participate in politics and contribute to the building Nigeria. The movement began on Twitter in January 2018.
Appointments And Honorary Positions
- Honorary Member of the Committee of the Crans Montana African Women’s Forum
- Member of Board of Director of AfriHeritage Institute, an economic policy think tank in Enugu, Nigeria.
- One of the Global Board Governors of NCMG International
- Member of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR)’s Advisory Group on Gender, Forced Displacement and Protection
- Member of the Advisory Board of the Atlantic Dialogues; Facebook’s Community Leadership Program; Almajari Project in Nigeria and the Chairperson of the Nigeria- 2035 Project
- Global Advisory Board Member, African Leadership Institute (AFLI) South Africa.
- Served as a Commissioner of the Global Ocean Commission at Somerville College, Oxford
- Board Member of Nexford University; Harold Hartog School of Government and Policy; School of Public Policy of Central European University and Global Leadership Institute at Tufts University e.t.c
- Member of the Board of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
- One of the Directors of World Leading Telecommunications firms, Bharti Airtel.
- Member of the Africa Council.
Oby Ezekwesili Awards And Recognition
Oby Ezekwesili is a woman of valour who has made outstanding contribution to Africa. For instance, her stint at World Bank helped the organisation understand how they can serve African’s interest. As a result, she received an award from Rosa Whitaker and Steve McDonald.
Also, she was honoured with a national award – Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2006.
Other awards and recognition include:
- Honorary Doctor of Science Degree, University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Nigeria, 2012
- One of the BBC’s 100 Women, 2013 & 2014
- One of the Time-100 Most Influential People, Time Magazine, 2015
- One of the 25 Women of Impact, New York Times, 2015
- Woman of Impact (along with Melinda Gates), The Women in The World, New York 2016
- Honorary Doctorate Degree in Business, University of Essex Business School, 2016
- Considered for the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize for her work in Transparency International.
- One of World’s 100 Most Influential People, Time Magazine, 2019
- Vanguard Award, Howard University, 2019
- Award of Recognition, as leaders of Concerned Professional in this era, June 12 Pro-Democracy Movement, 2019
- Social Influencer Award, ‘for launching the viral #BringBackOurGirls campaign online’ Forbes Woman Africa, 2019
- One of the #Genius 100 Visionary Thinkers of the Future
- Award of Excellence, Harvard Kennedy School of Government
- Jean Meyer Award, Tuft University EPIIC
- Democracy Ambassador of International IDEA
Oby Ezekweseli Quotes
“Social media is simply a tool that facilitates actions.”
“I would like to see a lot of people more involved in practical solutions to practical problems. Women have got to the point where we can turn the world upside down.”
“Don’t be voiceless when you have had the privilege of being educated. You can only become voiceless by choice. You must not make that choice.”
“When I look at the world as it is, there’s a serious vacuum of leadership. The world is crying for leaders.”
“A validated girl becomes an empowered woman. A girl who is validated by her father early, will be unstoppable. Male leaders who want to better their economies, must invest in women and girls.”
“Girls should not just think outside the box, they should not see the box.”
“Nigerians deserve better than leaders with aggressive mediocrity.”
“No greater joy than being a person of truth. It is the ultimate ace for peace….”
“Public backing is a sine qua non for all successful anti-corruption wars. Only governments that consistently acted lawfully earned it.”
“Citizens must arise not only to defend our hard-won democracy but exert the citizens’ pressure that is required to upgrade it to.”
“Keep the faith! It is not over until it is over. Don’t swallow your voice until our democracy evolves into assured good governance.
Entrepreneurial Lessons From The Life Of Oby Ezekwesili
Be Faithful In Small Things
A man who is not faithful in little things will not be faithful in plenty. Ezekwesili started out in the Nigerian government as a Special Adviser to the President on Bugdet Monitoring, and the Price Intelligence Unit. She did her work well which earned her the nick name ‘Madam Due Process’. She brought reformation into the system.
As an individual and entrepreneurs never compromise on your standard or company standard regardless of the pressure. Integrity and being on the right pays in the end.
Oby Ezekwesili is a versatile woman who distinguishes herself from the crowd with her innovative ways of doing things. She believes in hard work and leaves a positive footprint anywhere she works. No wonder Paul, the President of World Bank appointed her in 2007. According to Paul, Oby Ezekwesili is a unique blend of first-hand experiences…
As an entrepreneur, never be a mediocre. Always question the status quo and create a positive impact anywhere you find yourself.