Nigerian Presidential Candidate Oby Ezekwesili

Nigerian presidential candidate Oby Ezekwesili argues she’s the right person to tackle endless corruption and violence in Africa’s most populous country.

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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Would I be right in saying that yours is a real long shot candidacy, you know, one of the smaller parties, the main established parties are kind of duking it out between themselves? What do you really expect to achieve by running for president?

OBY EZEKWESILI: I hope to disrupt the politics of failure, the politics of bad governance and bad leadership that has only produced this small result. Such that today, Nigeria as the world capital of extreme poverty, certainly unacceptable. That’s what I intend to do, to disrupt this and build a nation that is based on prosperity, stability, cohesion and equality of opportunity for our people.

AMANPOUR: OK. So, let’s break this down because we have a graphic that shows that Nigeria has overtaken India as the world’s greatest concentration of extreme poverty, 87 million Nigerians live in extreme poverty and it’s growing by six people per minute. I guess what everybody will want to know is this, Nigeria is known for rampant corruption. I mean, unbelievable amounts of corruption. It is also a really potentially rich state with all your oil, with all your natural resources. I mean, how is it possible that 87 million Nigerians live at the poverty line or below?

EZEKWESILI: It is the — it is what happens when there is a bad governance. Bad governance is so endemic when there are no expectations of results from those that govern society. And therefore, there is no demand for accountability. And if and when there is demand for accountability, there’s no incentive on the part of the people who govern to produce results. I was one of the co-founders of Transparency International and we know that corruption is a tax on the poor and we already know that there are ways to tackle corruption. To prevent opportunities for corruption you reduce corruption. And part of what my agenda is, is to deregulate the economy in the kind of way that public officials don’t have too much presence in the economy, to be able to utilize it for personal gain. And also, to compliment actions on the prevention side, which is system that punishes corruption every time it happens. Because then, you create a deterrence against that very malignant cancerous action that has kept our country under developed, less modern at anything that we could have imagined at independence.

AMANPOUR: Yes. You know, it is extraordinary because all those things you say make us sit back and take notice, particularly because we see so much Nigerian money coming out of Nigeria, spent in the West

About This Episode EXPAND

Christiane Amanpour speaks with Leon Panetta, former U.S. Secretary of Defense and former Director of the CIA; and Oby Ezekweseili, a Nigerian presidential candidate. Walter Isaacson speaks with Tim O’Reilly, Founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media.