Obiageli, better known as Oby, began her career with Deloitte & Touche where she worked as an auditor, management and financial services consultant.
From 1994 to 1999, she served as a founding director of Transparency International (TI) and as TI’s director for Africa. She also worked with Jeffrey Sachs as director of the Harvard-Nigeria Economic Strategy programme, during which time she was also appointed as an aide to President Obasanjo, from 2000 to 2002.
In 2003, Oby was designated senior special assistant to the President of Nigeria on Budget Monitoring and Price Intelligence. She served as Nigeria’s minister of solid minerals from 2005 to 2006; and minister of education from June 2006 to May 2007.
Under her leadership in the Africa region, the World Bank’s lending to Africa rose exponentially to over $40 billion, which was dedicated to agricultural development, economic empowerment and access to health, education and financial support for the most vulnerable in the region. She was in charge of the Bank’s operations in 48 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
As vice president of World Bank, Africa, Oby employed innovation, knowledge, partnership and financial services to strengthen results across Africa and to improve the prospects for Africa’s economic performance.
As minister of solid minerals, she oversaw the passage of the Minerals and Mining Act, the establishment of the Nigerian Mining Cadastre Office, and the opening of the sector to private participation.
As education minister, she led a comprehensive reform programme within the education sector, including restructuring and refocusing the ministry for the attainment of Education for All (EfA) targets and Millennium Development Goals; introduced public-private partnership models for education service delivery; revamped the Federal Inspectorate Service as an improved quality assurance mechanism and introduced transparency and accountability mechanisms for better governance of the budget; led the establishment of the Innovation and Vocational Enterprise Institutions initiatives focusing on the development of skills for economic competitiveness and, in conjunction with the Nigerian Stock Exchange, launched the “Adopt-A-School” programme, an initiative that fosters philanthropy by corporations, community groups and individuals.
As vice president at The World Bank Group from 2007, Oby oversaw more than 1,500 staff, delivered projects, economic and sectoral work in 47 sub-Saharan countries.
Her close work with IFC and MIGA underscored the interconnectivity across the World Bank Group to achieve better and more far-reaching impact.
She also served as the chairperson of the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) from 2004 and led the voluntary sign-on of Nigeria to the NEITI Principles as well as the first ever process, financial and physical audit of Nigeria’s oil and gas sector.
She was a co-founder of Transparency International and served as one of its pioneer directors. As a senior economic advisor for Open Society, a group founded by billionaire George Soros, she advised nine reform-committed African heads of state including Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia.
Oby is well established in the Nigerian and international speaking circuits since she left the World Bank.
She is a chartered accountant, who holds a Masters in International Law and Diplomacy from the University of Lagos, a Masters in Public Policy and Administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Nigeria.
In May 2012, Ezekwesili was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science (DSC) degree by the University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Nigeria.
Oby is a director on the board of Bharti Airtel, she is also on the boards of World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the School of Public Policy of Central European University, The Harold Hartog School of Government and Policy, New Africa Magazine, The Center for Global Leadership @ Tufts University.
At the moment
After her retirement from the World Bank in May 2012, Oby returned to Nigeria where she joined the Open Society Foundation as the senior economic advisor. She is spearheading the Foundation’s new Africa Economic Policy Development Initiative.