Obiagaeli Ezekwesili was Nigeria’s Education Minister at the twilight of Olusegun Obasanjo’s presidency.
The Chartered Accountant spent only 10 months in the Ministry, serving from June 2006 to April 2007. She was sent to the Education Ministry from the Ministry of Solid Minerals, where she served for one year, a time within which she pushed for a novel legislation called the Minerals and Mining Act 2006.
Before Oby got appointed a minister, she had served as the pioneer head of a special unit in the presidency called the Budget Monitoring and Price Intelligence Unit (known as the Due Process Unit). It was in this position that she earned the sobriquet of “Madam Due Process” for the outstanding work she led a team of professionals to do in sanitising public procurement or contracting at the Federal level. It was also from the position that she engineered the Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP) legislation.
Within the ten month period, Ezekwesili and her team had reviewed the existing education policy at the time, observed conventional practices and had started questioning all that was wrong with the entire education system. The team empirically gauged input into the vast sector against outputs and began to interrogate the gaps.
In one instance, Ezekwesili noticed that funding was increasing annually while performance, which is the ultimate standard of measuring output in any institution of learning, was dropping badly. While funding increased by N23.95b per annum, 76.63% of those who took the WAEC examinations between the year 2000 and 2004 failed.
To address the root cause of the poor state of education, Ezekwesili and her team proposed arguably the most audacious comprehensive education sector reform in Nigeria’s recent history. The reform had three objectives; to reform the mind of the individual child, to have the reformed minds nurture a good society and to have Nigeria with properly educated young people compete globally.
Because she left that administration even before it ran its full course, it is doubtful what became of the policy proposition. But one full decade after that reform was proposed and nothing superior replaced it with, the jury is still out as to how far Nigeria has progressed on the path of provision of quality education for its citizens.
We had published the report before, but lost it to an attack on our archives sometime in the past.
We are publishing it again for the interest of the reading public.
It can be downloaded below.