Dr (Mrs.) Obiageli (Oby) Katryn Ezekwesili is a chartered accountant, former Nigerian Minister of Education, and former Vice President for the World Bank. Dr. Ezekwesili served as Vice-President for the World Bank's program in Africa and was responsible for a portfolio of about $40 Billion and the delivery of projects, economic and sectoral work in 47 Sub-Saharan countries.
She was until recently the Senior Economic Advisor to Open Society, aimed at building vibrant and tolerant societies with democratically accountable governments. She currently runs the Africa Economic Development Policy Initiative (AEDPI), which provides policy expertise and advisory support to African Heads of Government and their cabinets.
Dr. Ezekwesili began her career with Deloitte and Touché Akintola Williams. She was one of the co-founders of Transparency International and was one of the pioneer directors of its Global Board in Berlin from 1994-1999.
She served as Special Assistant and Senior Special Assistant to the President of Nigeria on Budget Monitoring, and the Price Intelligence Unit and spear-headed institutional reforms of the country's Public Procurement system through the establishment of due process mechanisms and strategies.
Dr. Ezekwesili then served as Minister of Solid Minerals Development; reforming Nigeria's mining sector to internationally recognized standards. She also served as the Chairperson for the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative from 2004 -2007 and pioneered the voluntary signon of Nigeria to the EITI Principles, as well as the first ever audit of the oil and gas sector.
In June 2006, Dr. Ezekwesili became Minister of Education and led a comprehensive reform program within the education sector including Restructuring and refocusing the ministry for the attainment of Education for All (EfA) targets and Millennium Development Goals.
Following the abduction of nearly 300 girls from Chibok in 2014, Dr Ezekwesili co-convened the viral ‘#BringBackOurGirls’ campaign on social media, which trended internationally and has world-wide support, including from international personalities including the former First Lady, Michelle Obama.
She is a member of the Global Ocean Commission at Somerville College, Oxford, jointly chaired by former Costa Rican President José María Figueres, the former Minister in the South African Presidency Trevor Manuel, and former UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband. She is on the board of three public policy schools, namely, the Harold Hartog School of Government and Policy at Tel Aviv University in Israel; the School of Public Policy of Central European University, BudapestHungary, the Global Leadership Institute at Tufts University, and several other institutional and corporate board memberships.
Dr. Ezekwesili holds a Master’s degree in International Law and Diplomacy from the University of Lagos, and a Masters in Public Policy and Administration from the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. The University of Agriculture in Abeokuta awarded her an honorary Doctor of Science degree in 2012. In 2016 the University of Essex Business School also awarded her an honorary Doctorate Degree in Business in recognition of her role in promoting economic and social justice in African countries.
Dr. Ezekwesili was named one of 100 visionaries featured in the 3D book "Genius:100 Visionary Thinkers and Futured in a 3D book launched in Montreal, Canada in 2017 by Albert Einstein's Foundations. She was recognized by Time Magazine as one of the Time-100 Most Influential People and by New York Times as one of the 25 Women of Impact for 2015. In 2006 was decorated with the Nigerian National award of Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (CFR). 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, Democracy Ambassador – International IDEA; and several other numerous local, national and international awards.
Dr Ezekwesili is married to Pastor Chinedu Ezekwesili. They have three sons-- Chinemelum, Chinweuba and Chidera.