Ezekwensili Blows Hot at NBA Conference

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Former education minister Oby Ezekwesili was at her feisty best as she decried a lack of people-centred economic governance in Nigeria. In her remarks at a discussion forum held at the on-going annual conference of the Nigerian Bar Association in Lagos, Ezekwesili tasked lawyers on the need to speed up, as a matter of urgency, the building of institutional barriers against the impunity and public misbehavior that has come to characterize governance at all levels in this country and elsewhere in Africa. In the absence of three critical catalysts for economic growth – namely, strong institutions, human capacity development and a value system that rewards honesty, excellence and diligence while punishing corruption and mediocrity, she said, governance becomes a mindless monopoly with no incentive to deliver desired outcomes to its citizens.

As part of her contributions on the discussion topic “The Great Debate: We Need Help to Grow,” Dr. Ezekwesili warned policy-makers in countries like Nigeria not to be caught up in the futile debate of whether to open up their economies to foreign intervention or close them up on the basis of a nationalist ideology, but rather to adopt a pragmatic, data-based approach – as China did back in the early days of the reforms that has boosted its economy and lifted millions of its people from poverty. The debate, she concluded, ought to be about the degree, rather than the necessity or otherwise, of openness.

Moderated by the attorney-general of Adamawa State, Hon. Bala Sanga, the discussion also featured contributions from Aig Imokhuede, President of the Nigerian Stock Exchange; former Georgian PM, Nika Gilauri, and a representative of Gov. Nasir el-Rufai.

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