The Federal Government and Obiageli Ezekwesili, Nigeria’s former Minister of Education and former Vice President of the World Bank group for Africa have engaged themselves in a war of words over alleged claims of corruption and fraud.
Ezekwesili has been accused by the Federal Government of misappropriating a total of N458 billion allocated to the country’s educational sector when she served as minister between 2006 and 2007. This is in response to recent claim by Ezekwesili that President Umar Musa Yar’adua and President Goodluck Jonathan squandered $67 billion in reserves.
Channels TV reports that the Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, who spoke on the behalf of the Federal Government, argued that Mrs Ezekwesili’s made no single reference of what she did during her stay in office in such sectors.
“We also found Mrs Ezekwesili’s interrogation of the educational system somewhat disingenuous and borderline hypocritical. During her tenure as minister of education between 2006 and 2007, she collected a total of N352.3 billion from direct budgetary releases.
“In addition, she received about N65.8 billion under the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) fund, and over N40 billion from the Education Trust Fund (ETF). In view of these humongous allocations, a few legitimate questions arise: what did she do with all these allocations? What impact did it have on the education sector? One wonders if our educational system would have been better today if these allocations were properly applied.”
At the recent convocation ceremony of University of Nigeria Nsukka, Ezekwesili who delivered the keynote address claimed that late President Umar Musa Yar’adua and President Goodluck Jonathan squandered $67 billion in reserves, comprising $45 billion in the external reserves and $22 billion in the Excess Crude Account left by former President Olusegun Obasanjo at the end of May 2007. Her accusation created quite a buzz across the country with many people taking sides with her.
In response to that, Maku defended the Presidency saying her claims were fictitious. He added that since President Obasanjo left office, the reserves have experienced fluctuations and that the excess crude savings, a component of the reserves, was also used to stimulate the economy at the height of the global financial crisis to the tune of about $1 billion, Channels TV reports.
Mr Maku further stated that the government did not intend to take her to court “but we will only explain and leave her in the court of public judgement.”
Reacting to the Federal Government’s counter allegation, Ezekwesili challenged the Federal Government to a public debate adding that all she did as a citizen was to demand accountability. She has been on a Twitter rant, declaring her innocence and challenging the allegations of the Federal Government.
Calling for a public debate sounds interesting. Wouldn’t you love to see that?
What are your thoughts on the heated exchange between them?