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Ezekwesili: I saw death during the civil war… We didn’t learn any lessons?

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Obiageli Ezekwesili, former Minister of Education, has expressed worries that Nigeria appears to have learnt very little from the loss of lives during the Civil War of 1967 to 1970.

Speaking during an interview with Forbes Africa TV, Ezekwesili said she started the Bring Back our Girls (BBOG) campaign because of the need to restore the dignity of human life, which was fast fading away with the numerous atrocities committed by Boko Haram and the nonchalant attitude of the government at the time.

She also spoke on various topics, including the need to keep calling for the return of the remaining Chibok girls.

“February of the same year (2014), 29 boys had been slaughtered at the Federal Government College, Buni Yadi and they were burnt and their charred remains were put on the Internet,” she said.

“There was nothing (on the media) about the parents of these children. Who were these children? Nobody told us. No names, just numbers; nothing.

“And society was just moving on. And you know, it was too painful for me. I’d never thought I would see a Nigeria where that would be like a normal thing. We had normalised the abnormal.

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“It was not up to two months after, the Chibok girls became victims. The same people that had done that gruesome act to the Buni Yadi boys went to this school and carried these girls.

“So when I saw that news, I was like ‘no, no no no; not again, NO!

“So if you check my timeline on twitter, from that 15th when that news broke, up until today, it has been about the Chibok girls. Because I said… this time around, this society must act to dignify the lives of her citizens, especially the ones that we send off to school.

“The basis of the greatness of nations is not what they have underneath their soil, the basis of greatness of nations is what the citizens have in their minds, their brains. It’s about the human capital of the people. So how come we have such disregard for the lives of the people especially the children?

“I saw death during the civil war. We didn’t learn any lessons? Are we saying that the dignity of human lives continues to mean nothing to us? We’re ready to pretend that nothing is happening? And for me, I thought no, this is not right; this cannot be right.”

Ezekwesili, who is also a co-founder of Transparency International, a global anti-corruption body, said that bad governance, not just corruption, is the problem with Nigeria.

She recalled that during her heyday as a global anti-corruption activist, she saw “much more poverty”.

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“I understood poverty even more because I saw it around me,” she said.

“I didn’t understand how we could remain poor when we had the kinds of possibilities that we had. And, you know, my dad kept saying ‘corruption is our greatest problem, corruption is our greatest problem’.

“Corruption is just an aspect of poor governance, so if you’re gonna fix anything; you have to get governance right.”

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