Nigerian candidate bemoans World Bank post

The Nigerian candidate to head the World Bank said on Monday that the appointment was not being decided on merit and that the US nominee would win, but added that she had helped bring change to the process.

“You know this thing is not really being decided on merit,” Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, also a former World Bank managing director, told reporters at a briefing on the country’s 2012 budget.

“It is voting with political weight and shares and therefore the US will get it.”

The World Bank’s directors meet on Monday to decide who will be the powerful institution’s next chief, with all expectations that the United States will maintain its unbroken lock on the position.

The next head of the bank will succeed Robert Zoellick, who is stepping down at the end of his term in June.

Okonjo-Iweala said that despite the apparent failure of developing nations to have a nominee appointed to the post, her candidacy had helped inject change into the process.

The US nominee, Korean-American physician Jim Yong Kim, faced a challenge for the first time for 66 years from two strong developing country candidates.

‘Big victory’
The other candidate, former Colombian finance minister Jose Antonio Ocampo, dropped out on Friday complaining that the selection process was all political.

“It will never ever be the same again,” Okonjo-Iweala said.

“So we have won a big victory. Who gets to run the World Bank — we have shown we can contest this thing and Africa can produce people capable of running the entire architecture.”

Under a tacit agreement since the Bretton Woods institutions were founded nearly 70 years ago, the US has always put an American at the helm of the World Bank and Europe has picked a European to lead the International Monetary Fund.

Okonjo-Iweala, a respected Harvard-educated economist, was widely seen as a strong candidate to challenge the status quo.

She took over as Nigeria’s finance minister in August, her second time in the role, after serving as World Bank managing director from 2007 to 2011.

Various reforms
The 57-year-old previously served as Nigeria’s finance minister between 2003 and 2006 and was lauded for having negotiated the cancellation of $18-billion of Nigeria’s debt. She also served briefly as foreign minister.

Since taking over in August, she has pushed for various reforms in Africa’s most populous nation and biggest oil producer, which has long been held back by deeply rooted corruption.

The reform push has had mixed results, with the most high-profile initiative — an attempt to end fuel subsidies widely seen as riddled with corruption and a drain on the country’s budget — turning into a political fiasco.

Nigeria’s bid to end subsidies all at once and without prior notice at the start of the year caused petrol prices to instantly more than double and led to a week of strikes and street protests that virtually shut the country down.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan was forced to compromise and partially reinstate the subsidies.

The series of events led to criticism of Okonjo-Iweala from average Nigerians, most of whom live on less than $2 per day and who see fuel subsidies as the only benefit from the nation’s oil wealth.

Other areas the minister has sought to improve include the country’s neglected agricultural sector and its dysfunctional ports, seen as a brake on investment. — Sapa-AFP

Keep the powerful accountable

Subscribe for R30/mth for the first three months. Cancel anytime.

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.

Ola Awoniyi
Ola Awoniyi
Journalist at AFP.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Latest stories

Police were left dangling during July unrest, KZN top cop...

Whoever organised the unrest in response to the pending arrest of Jacob Zuma was responsible for the lethal violence that followed, the KZN police commissioner Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi said.

Urgent interdict filed to block Shell’s Wild Coast seismic survey

Shell’s 3D seismic survey is set to begin on Wednesday. But a high court application brought by rights groups to block it will be heard as an urgent matter on Tuesday

Police intelligence surprised by July unrest ‘modus operandi’

Minister of police only receives information from national commissioner that relates to him, commission hears

Sars appeals to ConCourt to keep Zuma’s tax secrets

The high court ruled banning the release of tax information was unconstitutional. Sars disagrees, saying is not only wrong but makes an exception of the former president
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×