Obiageli Katryn Ezekwesili popularly known as Oby Ezekwesili, was born on 28 April 1963, Anambra State, Nigeria. Obiageli Ezekwesili, a Chartered Accountant and former Vice President of the World Bank for Africa overseeing more than 1,500 staff with responsibility for the delivery of projects, economic and sectoral work in 47 Sub-Saharan countries with a lending portfolio of nearly $40 billion.
She is a Senior Economic Advisor, Africa Economic Development Policy Initiative at Open Society Foundation, advising nine reform-committed African heads of state on their economic development strategy, policies, and implementation.
Before this, Ezekwesili who holds a Masters Degree in International Law & Diplomacy from the University of Lagos, a Masters Degree in Public Policy & Administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, and a Bachelors Degree from the University of Nigeria, worked with Deloitte & Touche as an auditor, management, and financial services consultant. She then served as a founding Director of Transparency International (TI) and as its Director for Africa from 1994 to 1999. From 2000 to 2002, she worked with Professor Jeffrey Sachs as Director of the Harvard-Nigeria Economic Strategy program, during which time she was also appointed as an aide to former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
She served as Minister of Education and Minister of Solid Minerals in the Nigerian government during the Obasanjo administration. While in government, Ezekwesili led the restructuring and refocusing of the Education Ministry for the attainment of Education for All (EfA) targets and Millennium Development Goals. She also introduced the Public-Private Partnership models for education service delivery; revamped the Federal Inspectorate Service as an improved quality assurance mechanism and introduced transparency and accountability mechanisms for better governance of the budget.
As Minister of Solid Minerals, she oversaw the passage of the Minerals and Mining Act, the establishment of the Nigerian Mining Cadastre Office, and opening of the sector to private participation.
Ezekwesili led the establishment of the Innovation and Vocational Enterprise Institutions initiatives which focuses on the development of skills for economic competitiveness, and in conjunction with the Nigerian Stock Exchange, launched the ‘Adopt-A-School’ program, an initiative that fosters philanthropy by corporations, community groups, and individuals.
She is the architect of the Bureau for Public Procurement legislation, pioneer head of the Budget Monitoring and Price Intelligence Unit aka Due Process, key member of the Economic Team of the President, member of the Power Sector Reform Team which engineered the Power Sector Act of 2007, and pioneer Chairperson of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), leading on the legislation that created the initiative and first ever national implementation of the global EITI standards.
Ezekwesili, who is one of the co-founders of Transparency International – the global anti-corruption body with headquarters in Berlin, Germany, functioning as the organization’s Director for Africa from 1994 to 1999 – was given the national award of Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (CFR). She holds an Honorary Doctorate Degree from the University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, and the University of Sussex, England, United Kingdom for her work in promoting transparency and accountability in government and lending a voice to the importance of the office of the citizen.
She was recently shortlisted as nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize by PRIO of Norway owing to her “efforts in making the world more transparent and less corrupt”.
Ezekwesili is on the board of Bharti Airtel, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the School of Public Policy of Central European University, The Harold Hartog School of Government and Policy, New Africa Magazine, The Center for Global Leadership at Tufts University, and Global Advisory Board of Facebook’s Community Leadership Program. She is a member of Board of Directors of the Economic Policy Think Tank, AfriHeritage Institute, member of The Global Board of Governors, NCMG International, member of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR)’s Advisory Group on Gender, Forced Displacement and Protection, and member of the Advisory Board of the Atlantic Dialogues.
She was in 2014 selected as one of the British Broadcasting Corporation 100 Women, TIME Magazine 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2015, and Genius: 100 Visions of the Future by the Albert Einstein Foundation in 2017.
Ezekwesili has a long history of socio-political activism under her belt as evidenced in her work as good governance advocate starting from her days as a young professional in the late ‘80s, as member and first woman to Chair The Concerned Professionals Citizens Movement which championed democracy in the ‘90s, and advocate to end military rule and restoration of the annulled presidential election of Moshood Abiola.
She co-founded the Bring Back Our Girls pressure group in 2014 raising global awareness for the rescue of over 200 schoolgirls kidnapped in Borno. The group’s activities continue to be a reference point in the struggle to ensure all the girls kidnapped by terrorists in Nigeria’s North East region are reunited with their families. She is the Founder and Convener of the #RedCardMovement (RCM), a citizens’ centered advocacy movement which started organically in January 2018. The movement was borne out of citizens’ determination to end the recurrent plague of bad governance in Nigeria regardless of which political party has held sway at national, state, and local government levels.
Oby Ezekwesili, who is a sought after speaker, advocate for good governance and active citizenship, is married to Chinedu Ezekwesili. They are blessed with three children.
Obiageli Katryn Ezekwesili Quick Facts
- Undergraduate degree in Business Education 1985;
- Master’s in Int’l Law and Diplomacy, Univ. of Lagos 1987;
- Master’s in Public Policy and Admin., Harvard Univ, 2000;
- Chartered Accountant;
- Honorary Doctorate Essex University, UK, Honorary Doctorate Federal University of Technology- Abeokuta Nigeria. Formerly: auditor and management consultant;
- Senior Special Assistant for Budget to President of Nigeria and Price Intelligence Unit – Reformer of Public Procurement system;
- Chairperson, Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative;
- Founding Member and Director, Africa, Transparency Int’l;
- Minister of Solid Minerals Development;
- Minister of Education;
- Founder and Co-Director, Center for Public Policy Priorities in Nigeria;
- 2007-12, VP World Bank – Africa Region;
- Senior Economic Adviser, Open Society Foundation – Africa Economic Development Policy Initiative(AEDPI) 2012-2015;
- Senior Economic Advisor, AEDPI 2015 to date. Commissioner, Global Ocean Commission;
- Director, WWF- Switzerland until 2015, Director, Bharti-Airtel until 2015;
- Boards of Harold Hartog School of Government and Policy at Tel Aviv University, the School of Public Policy of Central European University, Budapest- Hungary, Global Leadership Institute at Tufts University, NCMG International (Negotiation & Conflict Management Group), New African magazine – London;
- Co-Convener, #BringBackOurGirls, Co-Chair, All Party Parliamentary Group on International Freedom of Religion or Belief, United Kingdom, Chairperson, Advisory Board of Nigeria 2031;
- Time Magazine’s 2015 Time-100 Most Influential People, New York Times: one of 25 Women of Impact for 2015;
- She holds the Robert F. Kennedy Award of Excellence in Public Service of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, the Tuft University EPIIC Jean Meyer Awards and other numerous local and international awards;
- Decorated with the Nigerian national award of Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (CFR), 2006.
- Obiageli Katryn Ezekwesili Biography and Profile (Obiageli Katryn Ezekwesili)