by Gbenga Olorunpomi
That ‘$67 billion’ figure prompted a lot of debate in intellectual circles as well as several attacks on her person from presidential spokesmen over the last 2 weeks. It is yet another example of how a small part of a speech can take on a seeming life of its own, overshadowing everything else.
The convocation speech given by Mrs Obiageli Ezekwesili, at her alma mater, University of Nigeria, Nsukka on January 24th 2013, is likely to go down as an all time classic, simply because of this now famous sentence:
Furthermore, it is happening back to back with the squandering of the significant sum of $45 Billion in foreign reserve account and another $22Billion in the Excess Crude Account being direct savings from increased earnings from oil that the Obasanjo administration handed over to the successor government in 2007.
That ‘$67 billion’ figure prompted a lot of debate in intellectual circles as well as several attacks on her person from government spokespersons over the last 2 weeks.
It is yet another example of how a small part of a speech can take on a seeming life of its own, overshadowing everything else. The former head of budget monitoring and Minister of Education had a lot more to say, and we have attempted to capture her points in the graph below.
She found that Nigeria compares unfavourably to South Korea, Chile, Brazil, Singapore and Malaysia, in terms of GDP, per capita and life expectancy. We were on an even footing with some of these countries at independence.
Some excuses for Nigeria’s slow improvement: land mass, multi-ethnicity, geography and colonialism were disproved in her speech, as countries like China and India are much larger in terms of population and land mass, are also multi-ethnic, but have been able to help increasing numbers of their people prosper.
Between 1985, when she left UNN, and 2013, the percentage of Nigerian youth with access to a university education has grown to only 4.3%, from 3%. The result of this shocking statistic is the increasing number of people who live in poverty, growing from 17 million in 1980, to 112 million in 2010. Education is very strongly correlated with a better life in every respect.
Since oil was discovered in 1959, Nigeria has earned $1.1 trillion (yes, trillion) from it, but much of that money has disappeared into a black hole of corruption and mismanagement. It was this, and other facts that Mrs Ezekwesili made abundantly clear to UNN’s newest alumni, and by extension the rest of us.
The solution to this is entirely within the reach of Nigeria’s youth of today, who will be the men of tomorrow.
Gbenga Olorunpomi is a senior digital marketing strategist. He has over 5 years in the marketing communications business and has designed social media strategies for major brands like Coca-Cola and The Economist. He is experienced in the media, having worked for two years at one of the country’s biggest public relations firms as Media Relations and Content Manager. Gbenga is a Principal Consultant with Cyborg Nigeria. He is affiliated to the ACN. He tweets from @gbengagold
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.
This is the saddest and truest analysis any country can ever have. At this point, Nigeria is a failed/pariah state. And I don't really blame the government; no I don't. I blame the people who don't know what they want. Because if they did, this thing would have been changed long ago, by fire by force. But no. Nigerians glorify mediocrity and big thieves. Corruption is widespread and endemic. Charity must first begin at home, in the hearts, before any meaningful change can happen.
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