Presidential candidate for the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, Obiageli Ezekwesili, is banking on her experience and success in leading reforms of public procurement in Nigeria to lead her to victory in the 2019 polls.
She made this known in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Ampanpour which aired on Wednesday evening, re-affirming her campaign for the Office of the President as a movement to disrupt “the politics of failure that has only produced dismal results” in Nigeria. Dr Ezekwesili joined the race to replace President Muhammadu Buhari as the president of Africa’s most populous nation on the 7th of October. She has projected her candidacy as representative of the majority of Nigerians who are also running to change the status quo and is unfazed by vested interests who want to maintain it.
“The society knows me for having taken on them before” Ezekwesili told Amanpour
“I was the one who worked on fixing our public procurement system which was chaotic untill I entered government a decade plus ago. I effected the reform of the public procurement system through an initiative that was called ‘Due Process’. As a result of that work that fixed our public procurement that used to be the honeypot of politicians, the country began to call me “madam due process’. What I did in Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative is well-known globally.
“The lack of courage on the part of our soceity to stare down at these ones who have given us bad governance is now over. it is time to confront it and I believe I am the candidate of the Nigerian people. I am not running alone; we are all running, all who want a new direction for our country.
“This is a contest between the established class who have not delivered meaningful anything in governance and the rest of us. I simply am the candidate who is providing a direction for society to take on these folks”.
Ezekwesili spoke on her strategy for corruption, referencing her work as a co-founder of Transparency International, the international organisation that monitors perceptions of corruptions around the world.
“Corruption is a tax on the poor. There are ways to tackle corruption: you prevent opportunities for corruption, you reduce corruption. Part of my agenda is to deregulate the economy so that public officials don’t have too much presence in the economy to be able to utilize for personal gain. Prevention will be complimented by creating a deterrence to punish corruption anytime it happens”.
As the CNN anchor notes during the interview, Ezekwesili enters the race as an outsider based on the size of her party and on gender. But the former Minister of Education does not see her chance as a long shot. Despite mass skepticism of the possibility that she will win due to a lack of existing political roots, she hopes to remain in the race till the end.
On what her posture would be toward the United States and its president Donald Trump, Ezekwesili says she will project Nigeria’s image as a key player in global affairs while reminding the US of the need to maintain its crucial leadership role in gloabl affairs.
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