Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Oby Ezekwesili Applauds Anambra’s Vegetable Export, Praises Obiano’s Achievements

By James Eze

Over the years, Oby Ezekwesili has cut the image of a fearless, independent-minded Nigerian whose views and opinions never fail to draw attention. As a co-founder of Transparency International and pioneer Director of the globally acclaimed anti-corruption body with its headquarters in Germany, Ezekwesili is fully aware of the weight of her pronouncements across the world. But during last weekend’s Special Interactive Evening between Governor Willie Obiano and the Anambra communities in Abuja and the Northern parts of the country, Ezekwesili who is also a former minister of Education as well as Solid Minerals and fondly known as “Madam Due Process” gave her candid views of the Obiano administration in Anambra State. Speaking during the Question and Answer segment of the event which came up after Governor Obiano’s Account of Stewardship in a speech and a Documentary, Ezekwesili bared her mind with so much candour, elan and the trademark Oby-bluntness. Here are the excerpts -


“I do want to recognise three points that came out as I watched the presentation. The number one point is the power of integrated thinking when it comes to development. The idea is that nothing can be treated in silos. So, everything that has to do with all the sectors has to find a home in certain indicators that are important. And I was really fascinated by your commissioner for Economic Development (Mark Okoye). Who is he? He is really good for the job and I want to publicly acknowledge him. And I think that a key point that came out in the presentation is really the importance of evidence-based policies. I was so excited when one of your commissioners actually used the word. A lot of time in development economics, people don’t focus on evidence based policy making. And because that does not happen, so much resource gets wasted in resource-scarce environments. By using analysis and data as the parameter for determining your policy choices, I can see some of the results. For example the focus on Teacher Quality – 70% percent of the result of what informs the learning outcome of the children in a school system is based on the quality of the teachers. And so, the emphasis on improving the quality of teachers in Anambra immediately impacts learning outcomes. So, we shouldn’t be surprised if our children from Anambra State will trump all other children if we continue to improve the quality of teachers in the classroom. It is still evidence based policy making.


Another point that came out very clearly for me was the export diversification agenda…the fact that you have managed to beat the very stringent European Union standards for export of anything that resembles food into their territory, is something worthy of note and worthy to be replicated in as many sectors as possible. Mr. Governor, One point that you need to take away is that Agriculture is best when the focus is on productivity. You need to look at all of these elements of agriculture you are doing and the emphasis ought to be on how do we continue to improve productivity at every stage of it? And it is the value-chain approach and it is about global competiveness. Again, you said that Education is an energizer, an Enabler. I agree. But I would like you to also see it as a critical outcome for the economic growth of Anambra State.


 The reason is simple. Anambra is very rich in terms of intellectual capabilities. Therefore, it means that Education doesn’t just have to enable other sectors; it can be an end outcome itself. Just imagine a situation where global talents can be found in Anambra State. The world today looks for talent wherever than can find talent. Talents are not limited by virtue of where they are located. So, if we make Anambra the hub of knowledge, the hub of world class human capital, the world will surely demand for the skills of the Anambra people. And that is not one of the non-renewables. Human capital is constantly available. As long as you invest in it, you generate more and more of it. I believe that our human capital can, as a matter of fact, become a major source of our own foreign exchange earnings as a state in this country.


Let me end on the note that one of the reasons I came out is that development process has been found to be more increasingly about collaborative partnership. By making a number of us come out today, what you are doing is that you are ‘crowd sourcing.’ The key things that make development happen very fast in many societies that we have studied – number one thing is partnership. The number one is actually not finance. A lot of people assume that finance is the number one thing you need to tackle development problems. It is actually partnership. Your event tonight is about partnership. The number two thing is Knowledge. It is not even finance. It’s knowledge. And the knowledge that you see in this forum, in terms of the cumulative intellectual quotient of the people that you have put together in this event is incredible! Now, you must make sure that it doesn’t end tonight. You have got to distil the knowledge in the room and continue to integrate it into your development solutions.


And then, the final thing of course is Finance and I know that many of our people are people of big money in one form or the other. They need to begin to understand why they must invest in Anambra State. It is about incentives. What incentive will propel a business person, Chidolue for example? You know, business people are scared of environments that are hostile. So, you have to make the business climate very favourable. That way, finance will follow.
So, I wish you well, especially with your team. The assemblage of the quality of the people that you put together makes a big difference. Intensify the quality of people helping to solve the development problems in Anambra State.”

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