By UDEME CLEMENT
Women have less ego. When it comes to doing my job, I keep my ego in my handbag”. These were the words of Nigeria ‘s Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who was nominated for the World Bank topmost seat by Angola , Nigeria and South Africa.
Okonjo-Iweala who is in the race with the Colombian national and professor at Columbia University , Jose Antonio Ocampo, and Dr. Jim Yong Kim – a Korean-American physician, nominated by the United States – has faced the panel of interviewers at the bank’s headquarters in Washington DC.
Backed by African Union (AU) as the continent’s sole candidate, Okonjo-Iweala’s campaign abroad is gathering momentum as globally respected publications like Economist, Financial Times and most recently, Newsweek endorsed her for the World Bank Presidency.
Credentials/Managerial competence: Judging by her credentials and understanding of the workings of an economy, the candidate is most qualified to head the World Bank. She is an experienced economist with doctorate degree in regional economics.
She served as Special Assistant to World Bank Senior Vice-President, Operations between 1989 and 1991. She was Director, Institutional Change and Strategy at the World Bank between 1995 and 1997. She was World Bank Country Director for Malaysia , Mongolia , Laos and Cambodia between 1997 and 2000, before becoming the bank’s Deputy Vice-President, Middle East Region, a position she held between 2000 and 2003.
Currently, she is coordinating Nigeria ’s economy to actualise the economic transformation agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan.
Okonjo-Iweala has demonstrated competence in tackling economic problems in developing economies and Africa. For instance, she made the Paris Club – a group of bilateral creditors, to pay $12 billion of Nigeria ‘s external debt in return for an $18 billion debt write-off when she served as finance minister in the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Her candidacy as an African woman to lead the World Bank :
Her candidacy as an African woman to lead the World Bank represents a historic opportunity to strengthen the organisation in its mission to attack global poverty.
Outlining her programme for the Brettonoods institution in an interview, she said: “My vision for the 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 will 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.
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.
Africa is excited about this nomination. They see it as something that is very significant for the continent because it has never happened before. My mission is to use my experience to create a new institution that will respond to the yearnings of emerging and developing economies”.
‘…. How her presidency will benefit Nigeria’
By Festus Ahon
As the race for the World Bank presidency hots up, Nigerians are mobilising for support for her candidate, Dr (Mrs) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. In this interview, Hon. Efe Ofoburuku, a member of the Delta House of Assembly Committee on Appropriation, representing Uvwie constituency, lists the benefits that would accrue to Nigeria if Okonjo-Iweala grabs the Bretton-woods institution top job. Excerpts:
Today, we happen to have one of the nominees for the World Bank presidency in the person of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and she is from Delta State. What is your reaction to her nomination?
If I have my way, I would want to clap for her. I want to say it is a welcome development. It means that whereas people think we don’t have materials in the state, we stand head over shoulders among most states in Nigeria. It also goes to show that this time around, Nigeria is going to play a pivotal role in who becomes, when, who does what as far as the economy of the world is concerned.
From my rating and from what I have seen from her credentials, her C.V. is very rich, she is very qualified for the job. I was disappointed when I was told that President Barack Obama nominated a medical practitioner for the job. I wonder what the relationship between medicine and the world economy that is crashing is.
Okonjo-Iweala has proffered solutions to many troubled economies across the world. I think she is the right person for the World Bank top job; though I want to say the right man for the job this time around is a woman.
The Nigerian nominee has faced a 25-man panel for an interview for the job: how do you assess her performance?
She performed exceedingly well. Confidently, she listed 11 frustrating issues at the World Bank, which she has promised to address if given the job. Top among those issues was the issue of lack of data to take decision on poverty reduction in low income countries. Given her pedigree in the banking industry, I know that she would be able to tackle these issues and I want toask the world that Okonjo-Iweala be given the opportunity to make a difference at the World Bank.
Do you see her as the solution to the world economic problem?
I can tell you that, at the moment, there is nobody who is a total solution to the economic problem in the world, but I can assure you, she has a formula that can take us in the right direction and, if we sustain it, the world can walk out of the economic problem.
Some people are of the view that she should have completed her assignment as Minister of Finance in Nigeria rather than pursuing the World Bank Presidency job.
I can say that it is an issue of envy. Secondly, it is something that is going to further reform the economy of Nigeria. Nigeria is a small sector compared to the world economy and we are saying that if the majority is in a better shape, then we can be rest assured that the small one will be in a proper shape.
It is the world economy that will pull the Nigerian economy. Don’t forget that we are in a mono economy where we have just oil. If the world economy is not in proper shape, who then buys our oil? Don’t also forget that we didn’t even know that we had oil until the white man came and told us that beneath our soil was ‘black gold’.
Obviously, there is need to, first of all, reposition the economy of the world. The Nigerian economy being in good shape cannot salvage the situation, but I can assure you that if the world economy is in good shape more than 60%, it can positively influence the other economies of the world and that of Nigeria. So I think the right thing we should do in this directive is to allow the horse to pull the cart and not the cart to pull the horse.
The Okonjo-Iweala World Bank Presidency will be a plus for Nigeria because it will now help to showcase Nigeria as a country that is worth doing business with. With Okonjo-Iweala as World Bank President, I can assure you it will give us better opportunities to do better businesses across the world.
If I have opportunity to recommend, I will recommend Chukwuma Soludo as Finance
Minister and Sanusi remains the CBN governor because these are people who are tested, who have shown the stuff they are made of. I can tell you, if you pull these people together to form a team in the Nigeria economy with an Okonjo-Iweala as World Bank President, Nigeria’s economy will reach for the sky like that of Singapore.