Loudmouth Oby Ezekwesili, whose self-promotion is utterly devoid of shame, was at it again today as the keynote speaker at the annual Gamaliel & Susan Onosode Foundation lecture.
The theme of the lecture was “Finding Solutions to the Problems of the Nigerian Education System: A Multi-stakeholder Approach”. Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) campaigner Ezekwesili used her speech to call for a “national education governance conference” to show that a weak education system impacts on economic performance.
A conference or summit seems to be flavour of the month for those looking for a silver bullet to solve Nigeria’s problems. Several have called for an economic summit of experts to find ways to pull the country out of recession. Now, Ezekwesili comes up with an “education governance conference”.
The first thing that came to mind after hearing her hot air was: who needs a conference to understand the links between education and economic progress? If Ezekwesili weren’t educated, it is very unlikely she would have been as well off as she is today. Without her education, we may not have had to put up with windbaggery. So it is bleeding obvious that education is vital for economic progress.
But her education, sadly, doesn’t mean she is knowledgeable. As the late historian Yusufu Bala Usman wrote: “Ignorance is not the same as illiteracy. Knowledge is not the same as literacy, or, even the same as the acquisition of educational certificates, or, academic ranks. Some of the most highly literate Nigerians, and the most highly educated, by virtue of their certificates and ranks, are some of the most ignorant over many crucial areas of natural and human existence and over our national life, like our geography, history, economy and politics”.
Ezekwesili, who is fond of proclaiming loudly what she thinks is wrong in Nigeria, is quite reticent about reminding the people that have to endure an earful from her that she was once an education minister in the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo. The fact that she is calling for a “national education governance conference” means that she did little for education governance when her job was actually the governance of education.
Ezekwesili tweeted later this evening that: “To close our economic gap requires major STRUCTURAL CHANGES in Economy but also PROFOUNDLY in the wide gamut of our schooling institutions” (emphasis hers). Erm…what “structural changes” did you introduce as a education minister and what did they achieve? Or did you just say this because it sounded good? She actually had a chance to make a difference as a minster and failed, but she continues to carry on regardless, dishing out banal advice.
We know the Nigerian economy with its over-reliance on oil is up the proverbial creek without a paddle. No one needs Ezekwesili to tell us to “mind the economic gap”. What she needs reminding is the fact that she also had a spell under Obasanjo as Minister of Solid Minerals. Nigeria is still talking about taking baby steps in revamping the solid minerals sector – an indication that Ezekwesili left no lasting achievements.
Despite achieving nothing of note in her six years plus in government, and never saying anything profound in nearly 10 years since she left government, Ezekwesili continues to front like some expert and continues to dole out advice that begs the question: Why didn’t you take your own advice and give Nigeria something of note in your time in government?
In fact, she hardly mentions the fact that she is a former minister, hardly surprising because she has no record of achievement to refer to. Instead, she assumes the role of professional critic, mouthing off empty soundbites, an empty vessel making the most noise, and hoping no one remembers her record of failure in office.