Obiageli Ezekwesili is a Nigerian chartered accountant from Anambra state popularly known for the BringBackOurGirls campaign which went viral on social media. She was a co-founder of Transparency International, serving as one of the pioneer directors of the global anti-corruption body based in Berlin, Germany. She equally served as Federal Minister of Solid Minerals and then as Federal Minister of Education during the second-term presidency of Olusegun Obasanjo.
She was born on April 28, 1963 in Anambra State. Ezekwesili holds a master’s degree in International Law and Diplomacy from the University of Lagos, as well as a Master of Public Administration degree from the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. She trained with the firm of Deloitte and Touche and qualified as a chartered accountant. She is married to Pastor Nedu Ezekwesili of the Redeemed Christian Church of God(RCCG) and they are blessed with two children.
Prior to working for the Government of Nigeria, Ezekwesiili was working with Professor Jeffrey Sachs at the Center for International Development at Harvard.
Ezekwesili began her political career in the Olusegun Obasanjo administration as the Pioneer head of the Budget Monitoring and Price Intelligence Unit (aka Due Process Unit). She served as the Vice-President of the World Bank’s Africa division from May 2007 to May 2012. It was in this position that she earned the sobriquet of “Madam Due Process” for the outstanding work she led a team of professionals to do in sanitizing public procurement or contracting at the Federal level in Nigeria.
She was the architect of the Bureau for Public Procurement legislation, the NEITI legislation and the new Minerals and Mining legislation during. In june 2015, she was appointed Minister of Solid Minerals (Mines and Steel) and led to Nigeria’s global recognition as a credible mining investment destination. She was also the Chairperson of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) and led the first ever national implementation of the global standards and principles of transparency in the oil, gas and mining sector.
In June 2006, Ezekwesili was appointed the Federal Minister of Education, until she took up her World Bank appointment in May 2007. In March 2007, World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz announced the appointment of Ezekwesili as Vice-President for the Africa Region starting on 1 May 2007.
In 2012, she successfully completed her tenure as the World Bank Vice-President Africa Division. She was also a senior economic adviser for Open Society, a group founded by billionaire George Soros, she advises nine reform-committed African heads of state including Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia.
On 1 October 2012, she was named a director at one of the world’s leading telecommunications firm, Bharti Airtel, with operations in 20 countries. She is also on the boards of World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the School of Public Policy of Central European University, The Harold Hartog School of Government and Policy, New African magazine, The Center for Global Leadership at Tufts University.
Ezekwesili received several awards including an honorary Doctor of Science (DSC) degree by the University of Agriculture, Abeokuta in Nigeria. She was selected as one of the BBC’s 100 Women in 2014