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W’Bank: Obama Nominates Okonjo-Iweala’s Challenger

24 Mar 2012

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Nigeria's Finance Minister and immediate past managing director of the World Bank, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

•Nigeria, Angola, S’Africa endorse minister

From Tokunbo Adedoja in New York and Obinna Chima in Lagos

The race to succeed World Bank President Robert Zoellick heightened yesterday as United States President Barack Obama announced the nomination of Dr. Jim Yong Kim, a Korean-American Physician, for the global financial institution's topmost seat.


Obama's nomination of Kim, a professor of Medicine and Social Medicine and President of  Dartmouth College since 2009, came on a day Nigeria's Finance Minister and immediate past managing director of the World Bank, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, was nominated for the same office by African countries - a move spearheaded by South Africa, Nigeria and Angola.
Another American, Jeffrey Sachs, who is a development economist at Columbia University had also signified interest in the plum seat.


As the nomination process ended at the close of business yesterday, the executive directors of the World Bank has released the names of three nominees to be considered for the job. The list include Kim, Okonjo-Iweala and Jose Antonio Ocampo, a Colombian national and professor at Columbia Univer-sity. 


Formal interviews by the executive directors would be conducted for all shortlisted candidates to select a new President by consensus by the upcoming Spring Meetings.


Under the Bank’s Articles, World Bank President is chief operating officer of the bank and conducts, under the direction of the executive directors, the ordinary business of the bank. The bank's President is also responsible for the organization, appointment and dismissal of the officers and staff, subject to the general control of the executive directors. 


Obama's nomination of Kim is seen as a strong indication that US is not ready to let go the World Bank's topmost seat - which had been its exclusive preserve since the creation of the Breton wood's institution in 1944 - especially in an election year where Obama's opponent had blamed  his administration for what they called the declining influence of US in world affairs.


A statement from the White House yesterday said Kim's "personal experience and years of service make him an ideal candidate for this job.”


Noting that the World Bank is one of the most powerful tools to reduce poverty and raise standards of living around the globe, the statement quoted Obama as saying “Jim has spent more than two decades working to improve conditions in developing countries around the world.”


Describing Kim as a leader who had devoted his career to improving the lives of people in developing countries and championing the cause of global health, Obama said it was time for a development professional to lead the world's largest development agency.


Fifty-two year old Seoul-born Kim, who moved to US at the age of five, served as director of the World Health Organization’s Department of HIV/AIDS,  where he launched the “3 by 5” initiative, which sought to treat 3 million patients living with HIV, an initiative regarded as one of the most successful in modern global health.


Okonjo-Iweala, who had also served as vice-president and corporate secretary of the World Bank Group, and two-time finance minister of Nigeria, with a sterling record of striking a deal with 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, is believed to be a top contender based on the combination of support from Africa and emerging economies, and her brilliant record of service at the World Bank.


Following the incumbent President Zoellick declaration that he would not seek reappointment at the end of his term which expires on June 30, the Board of Executive Directors of the bank met last month under the Chairmanship of its Dean, Mr. Abdulrahman M. Almofadhi, to discuss the selection of the next President of the Group.


That meeting reconfirmed the importance of a merit-based and transparent process and agreed that candidates should meet the following criteria: a proven track record of leadership; experience of managing large organizations with international exposure, and a familiarity with the public sector; the ability to articulate a clear vision of the World Bank Group’s development mission; a firm commitment to and appreciation for multilateral cooperation; and effective and diplomatic communication skills, impartiality and objectivity in the performance of the responsibilities of the position.


The bank, a 187-member countries' institution, has 25 executive directors.  US, France, Germany, Japan and United Kingdom - who are the five largest shareholders - appoint five executive directors, while China, Russian Federation and Saudi Arabia each elect its own executive director, with other executive directors elected by the other member countries.

Tags: Featured, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria, Politics, World Bank

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  • Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has all the experience to be the helms person of the World Bank. America and the other largest shareholders should please support her. This will send a practical message of gender sensitivity in world affairs. I am confident that Ngozi will get the plum job by merit if the interview process is transparent. I do hope America (Obama) will not influence the process. Go for the job Ngozi. Go. We are solidly behind you. Dont be intimidated by Obama's nomination of Kim.

    From: Florence Banku Obi

    Posted: 2 years ago

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  • Sorry, NOI served as Managing Director and not Vice President of the World Bank.

    From: Tunji Joseph

    Posted: 2 years ago

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  • Without the support of the USA and President Obama, the chances of Ngozi Iweala are very slim. The USA and President Oboma have rallied, behind the Korea candidate. If we will judge from history, the Korean candidate will definitely get the job. In any event why is Ngozi putting up herself for the job or may be there is something she knows about the planned reshuffling by Mr Jonathan, that we do not know? Is Mr Jonathan going to drop her or relocate her in the next reshuffling of his cabinet?

    From: Patrick Agbobu

    Posted: 2 years ago

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  • Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala should get the job based on qualification and experience. It is however beyond these. Knowing how international politics is, Obama will have his way just as the Europeans had their way with the headship of the IMF. The world is not fair.

    From: Chris Abode

    Posted: 2 years ago

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  • On the face value, Ngozi Iweala looks qualified, but in my opinion, her one-sided arguments in the oil subsidy removal saga is a pointer to me that she is the kind of person who does not look at issues holistically. Foe example, all that she and the cabals wanted was to make Nigerians to believe the fraud that no national oil refineries work in the world, but Petrobras (Brazil) and Petronas (Malayisa) are working. As a matter of fact, the so called cabals connected to her Aso Rock masters and mistresses import fuel products from Brazil and Venezuela. It may also be of interest for you to know that 1Litre of Petrol costs 1.5 cents in Venezuela compared with the N140 (almost $1.0 they were pushing for), an oil producing country like Nigeria. Race or ethnic coloration apart, she doesn't look qualified for this top job. To prove her mettle, let her help to fight corruption and underdevelopment in Nigeria and afterwards, I can believe she will be able to support developments globally. Fellow Nigerians, be aware that Ngozi's leadership in the World Bank will not deliver significant values to Nigeria and Nigerians. The reason is simply, Nigeria and Africa leaders due to their insatiable appetite for corruption are increasingly dumping taking development loans at low interest from World Bank because of their conditions which are increasingly discouraging corruption. What they now do is head towards China for loans at commercial rates which they will even siphon large chunks of it with the collaboration of their benefactors. Look across the various states and see the so-called partnerships with China in Nigeria and Africa.

    From: Bayo Adaramola

    Posted: 2 years ago

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  • It will be very good if Mrs Ngozi Okonjo
    -iwala should get the job, she will definitely make Nigeria proud. However, the truth of the matter is that USA will always nominate the president of the world bank while the EU will nominate the president of IMF. This is the unwritten rule!!

    From: Onyekachi Enwerem.

    Posted: 2 years ago

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  • All the best CME/HMF

    From: Haruna Yakubu

    Posted: 2 years ago

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  • Having been nominated to vie for such a world class position, is on its own a credit to her, locally and internationally. My take on this is allowing her by the president to compete for the presidency of world bank will douse finally the remnants of doubts of credibility in her bid to revamp the economy of the country.

    From: alphonsus

    Posted: 2 years ago

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  • Ngozi is not putting herself forward because it is only member nations that can nominate a person for the post and she was nominated by South Africa ,Nigeria and Kenya,which are arguably African economic power houses.Nigerian Govt also nominated OBJ for the post of Secretary General but he was defeated by Butrus Ghalli of Egypt,the present President of IMF was the Minister of Finance in Sakozy Govt when She was nominated to replace Mr Kan.I do not see any issue about Nigeria nominating Ngozi who is our topmost economist and known world wide for the job.This Govt has really put some premium on the citizens of Nigeria and it should be appreciated too by all Nigerians.

    From: Uzoh Ekulide

    Posted: 2 years ago

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  • Obama should nominate Kim for the post of President of UNICEF OR WHO not World Bank.
    Ngozi has served World Bank from Mnagement Trainee to rise to Vice President then as Managing Director.In terms of requisite experience Ngozi deserves this job and at this time.Obama should appreciate the support of African Americans for his bid to become American President,in election Year is this how to pay them back? He must understand that one good turn deserve another,all blacks in America will not forgive him if the opportunity of having fellow black and woman to become President of World Bank is scuttled by our dear Kenyan Brother Obama.He is indeed our Son and should support Ngozi who has lived all her life in U.S.A.

    From: Uzoh Ekulide

    Posted: 2 years ago

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  • @Tunji Joseph
    Before serving as the Managing Director of the World Bank NOI has also served as a Vice President of the World Bank. That was before she joined Obj Govt as finance minister in 2003. Yes, Managing Director was her last position at the World Bank.

    From: Naija

    Posted: 2 years ago

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  • [“We believe that the candidature of Minister Okonjo-Iweala enables those that are going to make this decision in Washington to have before them an eminently qualified individual, who can balance the needs of both developed and importantly developing countries.
    “Also, her election will provide a new vision and sense of mission for the World Bank and its relevance, particularly to developing countries across the globe,” he said.
    Gordhan said South Africa and Angola were committed to mobilising support for Okonjo-Iweala through the various bodies to which they belonged on the continent.]

    Yes Mr. Gordhan but hear what the U.S. is thinking; he knows that your thinking is driven more by sentiments but then they have serious job to do in that Bank concerning their economies;

    [The US has traditionally exercised immense power over candidates for the presidency of the World Bank.]

    What you don’t seem to have considered about the appointment; Whose money sustains World Bank! Who has the major share of it? With the spate of corruption in Nigeria and U.S. officials know this very well it is unfortunate, that our sister is drawn into this tussle! You’ll recall that OBJ was once tipped for the UNO’s Secretary General post but Koffi Annan got the job! From that period to date Nigeria has not shown any improvement on its economic/ political maturity! Worse was that Dr. Okonjo-Iweala was sent to Nigeria under OBJ to help no doubt and we recall what OBJ did to her unknown to him that the World leaders were watching! Dr. Jonathan had only just requested same Ngozi to return to help his administration! To Obama or whoever is advising him, may well be saying; Look let Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala continue with Nigerian problem for them to see if she can solve (fix) it, which could still help her in the future about the position when it becomes vacant again, rather than pulling her out of of her present task (assignment) in Nigeria that early! So, I will not begrudge Obama for not only that Dr Iweala has a job on hand but U.S. has a stake in that Bank particularly with the financial crisis looming over in European countries, than for any African country!

    From: Vincent London

    Posted: 2 years ago

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  • I am happy to congratulate Madam O. Iweala, Look at yourself Ma, the world is considering you a very powerful contender against the United States. A few have said, you may not make it but you know what I think..... you have made it....you have made my day

    From: Osita Onyema

    Posted: 2 years ago

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  • Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is the best candidate bsed on her experience. Obama and crew should stop gender discrimination and Defending of American Sovereignty and give the most qualified the ample opportunity to serve the world. If so Obama would'nt have become the President of US ! Please Mrs. Ngozi you have all it takes dont shake. You are a woman of substance and a world leader.

    From: Donald Joseph

    Posted: 2 years ago

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  • the complexity of world politics lends itself to a great deal of nepotism and undue influence. The reason why American president would nominate a physician in the stead of an accomplished development economist like Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala also exposes to me a high level of complicity in world politics. I believe in meritocracy as against nepotism. This time around Obama would borne his fingers. Elections are around the corner he should not be putting himself in a corner where he woulb be seen as anti-black ...... his own colour

    From: OLUGELE ODINAKA

    Posted: 2 years ago

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  • Why would Ngozi be interested in the job when she had promised to reform the economic and financial system in Nigeria. She stated that the reason for resigning from the bank was because she would lead Nigeria out of the economic and financial mismanagement the country finds itself. Has she accomplished this yet?

    From: Chukwudi Udeh

    Posted: 2 years ago

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  • I wish her d BEST.

    From: Vicki

    Posted: 2 years ago

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