As Nigeria prepares to swear in President-elect Muhammadu Buhari this week, former Cabinet Minister Obiageli Ezekwesili says the new leader will need to “stop being a candidate…and reconcile the entire country.” Nigerian citizens will no longer idly wait for their government to take action, but will demand more accountability, she said in a videotaped interview with USIP Program Officer Oge Onubogu.
“The advocacy for our Chibok girls is a symbol of citizens finding their voice,” Ezekwesili says, in reference to the #BringBackOurGirls campaign that she co-founded to press for action and international attention after the militant group Boko Haram kidnapped hundreds of girls a year ago. The campaign elevated the use of social media in Nigeria even further as a means of interaction and political debate.
Ezekwesili served as minister of solid minerals and then as minister of education in the administration of then-President Olusegun Obasanjo, and later as vice president for the World Bank’s Africa division. She was a founding director of Transparency International, and recently was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World.
Ezekwesili participated in May 2015 in USIP’s African Women Leaders Leadership and Governance Forum. The discussion brought together a delegation of African women ministers from Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Morocco and Nigeria with representatives from the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Defense Department to consider global gender and peacebuilding initiatives in the context of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, which calls on women and girls to be protected in conflict zones and involved in related decision-making.
Following are two video clips from Ezekwesili’s interview with Onubogu and the full interview.