The Senior Economic Advisor of Open Society Foundation on the Africa Economic Development Policy Initiative, Dr Oby Ezekwesili has regretted that the dismal stage of infrastructure is currently robbing Nigeria a minimum of two per cent economic growth annually, a situation she linked to poor governance and incompetent engineers and other professionals in the built sector.
This is just as she blamed the failing school systems where majority of the children of the poor are taught in low quality public schools as a failure of governance not a failure of expertise in the education sector.
She stated this in Abuja yesterday at the opening of the second edition of New Media, Citizens and Governance Conference, organized by Enough Is Enough Nigeria (EiE) in collaboration with Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN) and BudgIT.
In her words, “If poor governance is the greatest obstacle to the development of the society, then we cannot afford monopolized government where those who supply governance operate in a space that belongs to them alone and the citizens have marginal influence to that space.”
Ezekwesili maintained that before the introduction of Due Process in award of contracts, Nigeria roads were costing two and half times the cost of roads in places like Ghana.
“Poor governance is a problem in our society because noisy generating sets disrupting the environment is not because we lack the technical expertise but because of poor governance”, she added.
Ezekwesili who is the former Minister of Education said it remains impossible for the citizens to commence the journey of democracy without knowing the content of the constitution even as she regretted that many adult Nigerians were yet to understand the full concept of the nation’s democracy.
While calling for the liberalization, deregulation and de-monopolisation of the system of governance, Ezekwesili espressed optimism that through technology revolution that knowledge is cheaper than it has ever been imagined.
On tackling corruption, she said, “The more agencies are proliferated to solve the major obstacles of corruption, the less value the citizens derive from governance; therefore, a proposition to build the demand side is the major project that all citizens must participate in.”
The Co-convener of BringBackOurGirls group harped on the need for citizens’ education, which she believes is fundamental for helping citizens to acquire the knowledge that would help to define the standard of good governance.
She congratulated the organisers of the event for their huge impact in educating the citizenry.
“A key part of democracy is the liberty and freedom it offers to have a voice not a noise because majority of what we hear today is noise.”