Obiageli Ezekwesili, also popularly known as Oby Ezekwesili, is a Nigerian chartered accountant from Anambra state. She was born to father Benjamin Ujubuonu who died in 1988 and mother Cecilia Nwayiaka Ujubuonu who died on 21 st June, 2020.
Oby Ezekwesili Biography
Dr. Obiageli Kathryn Ezekwesili was born on April 28, 1963 as the first of six children. Although, she was born in Lagos, she soon relocated with her family to Anambra (state of origin) due to the civil war. But after the war, the family returned, and settled in Ajegunle, Lagos.
In Lagos, she attended African One Primary School, Ajegunle. Subsequently, she went to United Christian College, Apapa for her secondary education. Thereafter, she attended the university of Lagos, and obtained an M. A in International Law and Diplomacy. She also bagged an M.A in Public Policy and Administration from the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.
She is married to Chinedu Ezekwesili. Chinedu is a pastor at the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG). And the marriage is blessed with children.
Oby Ezekwesili Career
Oby began her career with Deloitte and Touché Akintola Williams where she worked for a few years. Also, she worked with Professor Jeffrey at the Center for International Development, Harvard University. While she was there, she worked as Director of the Nigeria Economic Support Program.
As a result, in 2002, she became the Special Assistant and subsequently Senior Special Assistant to former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Budget Monitoring, and Price Intelligent Unit. While in office, Oby Ezekwesili made notable contributions. She led an institutional reform of the Nigeria’s public procurement system by establishing due process in public contracting.
Minister of Nigeria 2005 – 2007
Oby Ezekwesili was appointed a Minister on two occasions. First, as the Minister of Solid Minerals then, Minister for Education.
In 2005, she became the Minister of Solid Minerals (Mines and Steel). As a minister of solid minerals, Oby made a reform program that gave Nigeria the global recognition as a credible mining investment destination.
Also, between 2004 – 2007, she served as the Chairperson of Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI). As a Chairperson, Oby led the first national implementation of the global standards, with transparency in the oil, gas and mining sector.
Then, in 2006, she was appointed the Federal Minister of Education where she also made remarkable contributions. Then, following her prompt discharge of duties, Oby was offered an appointment at the World Bank as the Vice President of the Africa Region of World Bank.
World Bank 2007-2012
Ezekwesili served as the Vice President of the World Bank, Africa Region from May 2007 to May 2012. She was appointed by President of World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz in March 2007.
As a vice-president, Oby Ezekwesili successfully promoted Africa’s economic interests. For instance, during her tenure, the overall lending in Africa rose to over $40 billion. She also supported and promoted extensive economic growth which allowed World Bank cater to the financial interest of Africans.
In October 2018, Ezekwesili announced that she will be contesting for the office of the President of Nigeria in the 2019 elections. With the aim to alleviate 80 million Nigerians out of poverty, she announced her interest under the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN). She was interested in representing millions of Nigerians who collectively, are victims of bad administration.
However, in January 2019, she withdrew from the presidential race citing differences in vision and value of her political party.
When school girls in Chibok were abducted in April 2014, Ezekwesili pioneered the #BringBackOurGirls Movement. The movement was to raise awareness and hasten the release of over 200 girls kidnapped from their secondary school in Chibok by Boko Haram.
As a result of the campaign, some of the abducted Chibok girls were released by Boko Haram. The camapaign has not stopped for the remaining girls including Leah Sharibu, another abducted girl from Dapchi, Yobe, in 2017.
The #bringbackourgils campaign is not just for girls but for every Nigerian citizen abducted by terrorist groups.
Oby founded the #RedCardMovement as a citizen’s centered advocacy movement. It was founded to campaign against bad leadership, politics and governance in Nigeria regardless of the political party. Also, the movement advocate and encourage Nigerian citizens to participate in politics and contribute to the building Nigeria. The movement began on Twitter in January 2018.
Appointments And Honorary Positions
Honorary Member of the Committee of the Crans Montana African Women’s Forum
Member of Board of Director of AfriHeritage Institute, an economic policy think tank in Enugu, Nigeria.
One of the Global Board Governors of NCMG International
Member of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR)’s Advisory Group on Gender, Forced Displacement and Protection
Member of the Advisory Board of the Atlantic Dialogues; Facebook’s Community Leadership Program; Almajari Project in Nigeria and the Chairperson of the Nigeria- 2035 Project
Global Advisory Board Member, African Leadership Institute (AFLI) South Africa.
Served as a Commissioner of the Global Ocean Commission at Somerville College, Oxford
Board Member of Nexford University; Harold Hartog School of Government and Policy; School of Public Policy of Central European University and Global Leadership Institute at Tufts University e.t.c
Member of the Board of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
One of the Directors of World Leading Telecommunications firms, Bharti Airtel.
Member of the Africa Council.
Oby Ezekwesili Awards And Recognition
Oby Ezekwesili is a woman of valour who has made outstanding contribution to Africa. For instance, her stint at World Bank helped the organisation understand how they can serve African’s interest. As a result, she received an award from Rosa Whitaker and Steve McDonald.
Also, she was honoured with a national award – Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2006.
Other awards and recognition include:
Honorary Doctor of Science Degree, University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Nigeria, 2012
One of the BBC’s 100 Women, 2013 & 2014
One of the Time-100 Most Influential People, Time Magazine, 2015
One of the 25 Women of Impact, New York Times, 2015
Woman of Impact (along with Melinda Gates), The Women in The World, New York 2016
Honorary Doctorate Degree in Business, University of Essex Business School, 2016
Considered for the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize for her work in Transparency International.
One of World’s 100 Most Influential People, Time Magazine, 2019
Vanguard Award, Howard University, 2019
Award of Recognition, as leaders of Concerned Professional in this era, June 12 Pro-Democracy Movement, 2019
Social Influencer Award, ‘for launching the viral #BringBackOurGirls campaign online’ Forbes Woman Africa, 2019
One of the #Genius 100 Visionary Thinkers of the Future
Award of Excellence, Harvard Kennedy School of Government
Jean Meyer Award, Tuft University EPIIC
Democracy Ambassador of International IDEA