Obiageli Ezekwesili, Nigeria’s former Nigerian Minister of Education, and former World Bank vice president for Africa has told Aljazeera that the Olusegun Obasanjo adminsitration in which she served wasn’t as corrupt as the Sani Abacha regime.
Ezekwesili who is also the co-founder of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign made the comment while speaking to Al Jazeera English.
Questioned by Head to Head host, Mehdi Hasan about endemic corruption in Nigeria, Oby said her country has a “political class problem,” but refused to condemn her former boss and mentor President Olusegun Obasanjo, who ruled between 1999 and 2007.
Under pressure by Hasan, she conceded Obasanjo was “aware of the elements of corruption, and it was his responsibility to tackle” them, but categorically denied he was corrupt himself. “Of course it [the government] was [corrupt]! [But] There was no way it could have been more corrupt than the government of Abacha,” she said, referring to the military dictatorship of Sani Abacha that preceded Obasanjo’s rule. Oby lamented that the government she was part of was not able to “succeed fully” in tackling corruption, and defended her own track record, saying she had not been “window dressing” for a corrupt regime and insisting – despite holding two ministerial positions in the Nigerian government, being an advisor to presidents and holding high office at the World Bank – that she was not a politician.
Ezekwesili also told Aljazeera that Nigerian armed forces have committed human rights abuses in their fight against the violent group Boko Haram in the north of the country. “It clearly does have instances where human rights violations have happened,” she says.