Former vice president of the World Bank, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili has alleged that the Umaru Yar’Adua and President Goodluck Jonathan administrations squandered the $45bn that was left in the foreign reserves account and the $22bn left in the Excess Crude Account by the former President, Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration.
She called on the concerned administrators to explain to Nigerians how the said money was squandered..
Oby Ezekwesili, who was also the Minister of Solid Minerals and Education under Obasanjo administration, disclosed this during a lecture. Presented a speech at the convocation ceremony of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, she decried: "Nigerians do not have dignity because of the ravaging poverty caused by poor choices of the privileged, corruption, and lack of investment in education."
She added that Nigeria has enjoyed several years of oil boom and has failed to use the income to get renewable assets through training of human capital, improvement of other regions and venturing into foreign chattels as other privileged countries do with their earnings.
She said, "The present cycle of boom of the 2010s is, however, much more vexing than the other four that happened in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 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."
She lamented the "squandering of the significant sum of $45bn in the foreign reserves account and another $22bn in the Excess Crude Account being direct savings from increased earnings from oil that the Obasanjo administration handed over to the successor government in 2007."
She said, "Six years after the administration I served handed over such humongous national wealth to another one, most Nigerians, especially the poor, continue to suffer the effects of failing public health and education systems as well as decrepit infrastructure and battered institutions.
"One cannot but ask what exactly does symbolise with this level of brazen misappropriation of public resources? Where did all that money go?
"Where is the accountability for the use of both these resources and the additional several hundred dollars realised 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 urged the graduating students of the University not to give up hope but to stand up strong and become the turning point generation of young and educated Nigerians with the determination to affect change through participation, service or having a say in affairs of the country.
According to her, the Nigerian political situation is a mess. She however stressed on the importance of politics by linking politics to economic development.
"There is a strong correlation between politics and economic development."
She lamented that Nigerian Universities’ graduates account for 4.3% of Nigeria’s youthful population as held in 2012, however, "this compares unfavourably with opportunity for university education in other countries put at 37.5% in Chile; 33.7% for Singapore; 28.2% for Malaysia; and 16.5% for Brazil," she noted.