4 October 2017
Former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili has backed calls for Nigeria to diversify her economy, stating that failure to do so, Nigeria will be forced to ‘drink’ her fossil fuel.
Speaking at the 2017 civil engineering conference organised by the Abuja chapter of the Nigerian Institution of Civil Engineers, NICE, Ezekwesili stated that at the moment, major oil producing countries were diversifying from their dependence on the commodity while Nigeria looked adamant to the development.
She spoke within the theme of the conference ‘Fighting corruption in Nigeria: the role of engineering profession’, where she also explained that over the years, engineers in the country had contributed to the corrupt practices that had kept Nigeria from developing her infrastructure.
She said: “Let me tell you something, Norway, one of the biggest oil producers has just stashed $1 trillion of her oil money in a sovereign wealth fund.
“I was in Norway recently, and 10 per cent of vehicles used there run on electric. Nigeria should ask herself these critical questions because very soon, Nigeria will drink her crude oil.”
On the sorry state of infrastructure and how engineers can contribute to that, Ezekwesili said: “You are at the heart of public investment. Governance can be looked on as a market – a supply side and a demand side. Those of you that are part of the supply side of governance, what quality of governance are you supplying?
“As an engineer in government, what are the ethics of the profession, how are you upholding the systems of professionalism that are supposed to determine the value for money in every engineering process that you are responsible?”
She further asked: “Are you trying to pretend that you are not part of government when we know that in governance, the class that has security of tenure is the technocratic class, and that is who you are. The failure of Nigeria to produce good outcomes will be squarely deposited on the heads of many of you here.”
Ezekwesili equally claimed that the engineering profession had abdicated its responsibility to hold government and its members to account on erratic practices, adding that engineers seldomly penalised their members found wanting for many of the building collapses in the country, among other infrastructural failures.