President Kagame with Dr. Obiageli “Oby” Ezekwesili (L), and Rosa Whitaker, CEO of the Whitaker Group in Washington.
President Paul Kagame has praised the outgoing World Bank vice president, Dr. Obiageli “Oby” Ezekwesili, for her contribution to Africa during her tenure, when he delivered the keynote address at a tribute in her honour.
“What we have seen in Rwanda working with the World Bank over the last decade is, indeed, shared across the continent and there is no doubt that two very competent women have been at the World Bank.
“Our sisters from Africa, Oby and Ngozi Okojo- Iwela have been competent leaders in this institution under the able leadership of Bob Zoellick who has also been a good friend of Africa,” Kagame said.
It was the highest accolade paid to Dr Ezekwesili by a visiting Head of State in an event where one of the finest of Africa was being bade farewell for a job well done at the World Bank.
Kagame spoke of the pivotal role she had played in championing a strategy which in her words is built around “partnership with Africa, working with Africa, not for Africa.”
The farewell tribute was held at the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for scholars, and jointly organised by the Tony Emelu Foundation and the Whitaker Group. It brought together African Ambassadors and representatives of the diplomatic corps, global business leaders, representatives from the World Bank, IMF, civil society, and NGOs.
Kagame also paid tribute to Dr Ezekwesili role as a strong advocate for Africa, emphasising she continuously encouraged both Africans and others to seize the moment and turn the continent’s immense potential into profits.
“Through the World Bank’s increased support to productive areas such as infrastructure, agriculture and energy, the potential for investment in these areas and in harnessing a developed private sector has greatly increased,” President Kagame noted.
In turn, Dr Ezekwesili acknowledged Rwanda’s role and place in Africa’s new thinking. Turning to President Kagame, she thanked him and paid him the highest of compliment, “for being the face of aspiration that we all share for the development of our continent.”
Dr Ezekwesili said she always believes that “development is a process that is exemplified by the strength of will, the strength of purpose and the resilience on the part of the people to create the impetus for their own progress.”
She added, “I have never looked at development as the activity of the weak and that is why I have always seen the continent as a continent with so much power and yet not demonstrated it for many decades. So now, Mr President, the strength of vision, that dignity that is necessary, that strength of character that you have demonstrated has been an important factor of progress that we have seen in Rwanda.”
Speaking on behalf of the event’s organisers, Rosa Whitaker, CEO of the Whitaker Group, praised Dr Ezekwesili, who “came to the World Bank with a demonstrated record of achievement as a pioneer and public servant.”
She emphasised that Dr Ezekwesili “is driven by a cherished and fundamental belief that opportunity should not be bestowed arbitrarily, but incontrovertibly.”
Dr Ezekwesili expressed her gratitude to the organisers for having put together the event and re-iterated her intention to continue to act as an advocate for Africa.
Other tributes included a taped address to Dr Ezekwesili by the former President of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo.
Highly qualified in her own right, she hold holds a Masters from the International Law and Diplomacy, University of Lagos; Masters in Public Administration from Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University in the United States.
She has worked for audit firm Deloitte and Touche as a Management and Financial Services Consultant; was a Founding Director, Transparency International and was its Director for Africa with; served as Minister of Solid Minerals, and Federal Minister of Education in her native Nigeria before moving to the Bretton Woods institution.
Source The New Times