Former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili has said restructuring alone would not solve Nigeria’s development challenges.

Ezekwesili notes that the country is suffering from leadership famine that could only be redeemed by the molding of good characters.

The former World Bank Vice President added that more women should occupy government positions where decisions on the collective good of the society are taken to minimize corruption.

She gave the advice at a lecture organised by HID Awolowo Foundation in Victoria Island, Lagos on Tuesday.

The lecture had as its theme: “Ethical Politics, Development and Security in Nigeria: The Critical importance of Women’s Leadership’’.

The former minister, who contended that better governance should be expected when women are allowed to lead, said it is time for the country to discard the old system of relegating women to the background.


“Research shows that in Africa, only five per cent of women are CEOs, 22 per cent are cabinet members, 25 per cent are parliamentarians, 29 per cent are managers, 36 per cent are promoted, and some 44 per cent of senior women hold line roles.

“With Nigeria in the lead, this tells that women have been marginalised and this is evident in the poor governance that the continent has produced.

“So, men must take full responsibility for the state of affairs of Nigeria and the continent.

“What this is saying to us is that we need to improve on the participation of women in our political system.

 Ezekwesili stressed that no one is doing a favour to the African woman by involving her in the process of governance on the basis of evidence that data has shown.

She described barriers militating against women coming into the political space as being cultural, religious, economic, social and self-imposed.

The ex-minister, also an ordained pastor and a fierce critic of the federal government, urged women to rise up and disrupt the existing paradigm.

According to her, women are incredible human resources that must not be put on hold.

While declaring that good governance had eluded the country for years of its democracy, Ezekwesili, however, contended that no country could solve the problem it had denied.

“You have to take ownership of the problem, that should be the mindset of the leaders,” she said,

She added that for all the countries that had been successful in the world, including Singapore, which got her independence around the same time with Nigeria, leadership had been key to their success.

She further described Nigeria as a weak and fragile nation. Listing features of a fragile state to include: a weak central government, lack of provision of public service, widespread corruption and criminality.

Ezekwesili added that these sad features have made Nigeria to be ranked as the 13th most fragile state in the world.

In his comment, Pastor Tunde Bakare, lauded the leadership quality and virtuous nature of  HID Awolowo, who, he said, demonstrated uncommon bravery when he led a campaign for Dr Mike Okpara in 1964.

“This was my first encounter with Mama HID Awolowo. In 1964, she wore a wrapper and led a campaign for Mike Okpara. She was a leader par excellence,” he said.

When taking a biblical insight into the importance of women in the existence of humanity, Pastor Bakare pointed out that based on the account of what happened at the creation, God had clearly placed a lot of responsibilities on the shoulders of women.

A former governor of Ondo State, Dr Olusegun Mimiko noted that the best way to empower the nation was to empower women.

He said: “In a family, if a woman is empowered, you will see the difference in the house, you will see the difference in the children, even the man will see the difference from the dining table.

“But the other way round, if a man is empowered, his pocket suddenly increases.

“The empowerment of a woman is very important for the nation to move forward.

“I have no doubt about that, although it is not always automatic that a woman is necessarily not more corrupt than a man.

“There is no universal application that a woman is necessarily less corrupt than a man because there are some cultural contexts to it.

Dignitaries at the event included Sultan of Sokoto, Abubakar Sa’ad represented by Emir of Songa, Alilu Yahaya;  representatives of Ooni of Ife; former Minister of Information, Labaran Maku; Senator Daisy Danjuma and Kessington Adebutu.

Others were the Aare Ona Kakanfo-designate, Gani Adams; Erelu Abiola Fernandez, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora, wife of former Ekiti governor,  Bisi Fayemi; wife of the Minister for Works, Abimbola Fashola; former Minister for Solid Minerals, Dupe Adelaja and Yinka Odumakin.