By Oscarline Onwuemenyi
ABUJA- The Nigerian Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, and Africa’s nominee for the Presidency of World Bank, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has expressed confidence that she could win the contest to become President of the World Bank if the election process is open and transparent.
Dr. Okonjo-Iweala is contesting against two other nominees including Jim Yong Kim of the U.S. and former Colombian Finance Minister Jose Antonio Ocampo.
Expressing confidence at a media briefing yesterday in Abuja, Okonjo-Iweala enunciated her vision for the global financial institution, remarking that she possesses the best credentials to turn the focus of the Bank to the challenges facing developing countries and emerging economies across the world.
Okonjo-Iweala, who has since embarked on a tour of the continent to draw support for her candidacy, stated that she enjoys support from emerging market countries because of her experience with developing nations.
She said: “There are many emerging market countries that are very supportive of my candidacy and many of them feel that the World Bank is ready for someone who understands the challenges of emerging economies and of developing countries, and can totally focus on expanding opportunities for growth and development using practical financial tools to create growth.”
According to Okonjo-Iweala, “my vision for the World Bank is that of an institution that is swifter and nimbler in tackling what I consider the most important challenge of many countries, especially developing economies, which is job creation.
World Bank under me ‘ll support volatile countries
“I will work to create an institution that can work fast to support countries in times of volatility and uncertainty such as many global economies are currently facing. That is what I intend to bring to the World Bank if elected President; both practical experience and unimpeachable credentials required to do the job.”
The Minister expressed confidence in her nomination for the position, adding that shareholders of the World Bank have indicated their interest to see a more open and transparent system for the election of the body’s president.
“This is the first time that it is happening, and if there is an open and transparent process, I stand a good chance. If there is no level playing field, then we will see what happens. Otherwise, I stand a very good chance; I have the credentials for this job, and I can only remain positive,” she stated.
Okonjo-Iweala further disclosed that she had been to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and the Extra-Ordinary meeting of ECOWAS Heads of Government in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, to meet leaders in the continent, adding that, “what is happening is that Africa is excited about this nomination; they see it as something that is very significant for the continent because it has never happened before.
“This is the first time the position of a World Bank president will be contested and Africa is ready to pull together to show its support for my nomination,” she added.
Also speaking at the briefing, a former Minister of Finance and presently Nigeria’s representative at the World Bank, Mr. Mansur Muhtar, said Dr. Okonjo-Iweala possesses “one of the best credentials for the position at the moment.”
According to Muhtar: “Reasons being advanced by most of the people who have approached President Goodluck Jonathan to put up the Minister for the World Bank’s top job, and many others within the continent and outside who have canvassed for Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, is because of her impeccable credentials and her experience in senior management position at the World Bank.”
He added that there has been a lot of interest from other developing and economically emerging countries for the candidacy of Okonjo-Iweala for the position of World Bank presidency, adding that the campaign is focused not so much on the nationality of the candidates but on the qualities and credentials they bring to the table.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Finance has assured Nigerians that she remains focused on doing her job as Minister of Finance in spite of her interest in seeking the World Bank’s top job.
She stressed that although she was honoured by President Jonathan’s acceptance of her nomination for the position, she was still focused on delivering on the president’s reform agenda for which she was appointed over the past eight months.
She said: “My passion for Nigeria is unquestioned, and my commitment to doing this job (as Minister) is unquestioned and I am very focused on doing my job here as Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy.”
She added that, “the reforms that Nigeria is undertaking in the economy for the President’s reform agenda is on-going, and there is a National Economic team headed by Mr President himself that oversees the achievement of the economic goals of the government.”
In the event she had to leave, however, she stated that the president’s economic reform agenda would not suffer any setback because she works with a team of very experienced and patriotic Nigerians who would effortlessly carry on with the agenda.