Former President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday said the probe of former Education Minister, Mrs Oby Ezekwesili by the incumbent administration would be an effort in futility. He said that rather than anything coming out of investigation of the former minister, Nigeria would instead pay her for the selfless service she rendered to the country. The ex-president who spoke at the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) service to commemorate the 50th birthday of Ezekwesili in Abuja, also faulted plans by the Federal Government to set up a commission to monitor petroleum pipelines.
Ezekwesili served under Obasanjo as minister of solid minerals and later education. She recently at a lecture delivered at the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) sparked controversy by declaring that the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan and that of late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua squandered $67bn dollars of Nigeria’s foreign reserves. The Federal Government flayed the claim, accusing her of spreading falsehood. It threatened to investigate the former minister. Reacting on the threat yesterday, Obasanjo said the government was chasing shadows stressing that Ezekwesili had no baggage of any sort .
The former president who spoke shortly after the former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr Kanu Agabi read a citation of Ezekwesili, laughed off any move to probe the former deputy managing director of the World Bank. “Anybody talking about probing Oby is wasting his time, Nigeria is instead owing her”, he said . Obasanjo said that he was ready to take responsibility of any wrongdoing by any of his aides. He described Ezekwesili as an exceptional person who every Nigerian should be proud of. On plans to set up a Pipeline commission by the Federal Government , the former President dismissed the idea as uncalled for. He argued that it was the job of the police and other security agencies to protect petroleum pipelines. Former Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Mohammed Uwais in his remark, described Ezekwesili as an example in honesty.
He said the former minister served Nigeria creditably. Similar commendation came from Anambra State Governor, Peter Obi who said the state would continue to thank God for giving her somebody like Ezekwesili. “We are proud to have somebody like Oby as our daughter. We are also proud of her achievements both at the national and international levels.” Former Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Mallam El-Rufai who described the former minister as a great personality who could not lie nor bend truth, urged her to step out and offer herself for service . Several other speakers also urged her to vie for presidency in 2015. But speaking to newsmen during the colorful event, Ezekwesili distanced herself from any the call to contest presidency.
She insisted that she was not a politician. She however explained “Actually, there is nothing about being interested in politics if you understand democracy. Democracy is incomplete without the engagement of the citizens in the process. The demand for accountability and for results is the role of citizens. You don’t have to be in politics in order to be an active citizen engaged in the democratic process. “The reason that we have lacked results and accountability since our first democratic experiment in the 60s was simply because the citizens failed to play that role. I am not going to be a citizen that acts like a eunuch like there is no capacity to demand accountability.” She stressed“So, I am not a politician.
The day I decide that I want to be a politician, you don’t need to guess, you will see me. I am very candid, I am very frank, I am too honest to play games on things that I believe in. I don’t want to be a politician, I am not a politician but I am an active citizen who is basically carrying out the role that every citizen of this nation must carry out. “My general overview is that we are going through the throes of challenges that require a very strong sense of sacrificial leadership. The corruption in the society right now is so endemic, it’s almost become democratized. And that is going to sink us. We need not implode under the weight corruption. We need to tackle corruption and tackle it as you would tackle cancer. It can kill.
“There is no need pretending that this country is not burdened by the weight of a cancerous phenomenon that is called corruption. Every Nigerian knows that we have a problem. This is a broken society and it has permeated every aspect of our national life. So, we must do something about it. Dignatories at the event include the Minister of International Cooperation of Benin Republic, Prof Koutoub Mustapha,Deputy Governor of CBN, Kingskey Moughalu , Director General of Securities and Exchange Commission, MsArunma Oteh, former CBN Governor, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, former minister of Information, Frank Nweke Jnr.