Friday, March 30, 2012

World Bank Selection A ‘Hypocrisy Test’, Says Okonjo-Iweala

... As Financial Times Newspaper Endorses Her... 

Nigeria's Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has said that the process through which a new World Bank president is selected to succeed Mr. Robert Zoellick whose tenure ends in July would serve to determine the "level of hypocrisy" of the rich nations.  

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
 “I would really hold the Bretton Woods shareholders to their word, that they want to change the way business is being done and want a merit-based, open and transparent process for the presidency. I just want to see whether people just say things with their mouth that they don’t mean and what’s the level of hypocrisy. So we want to test that,” Okonjo-Iweala told Financial Times (London) in a recent interview. 

Since the World Bank was established, America has always produced its president. And it is always taken for granted that the American nominee will always emerge the winner due to her superior voting power. Already, President Barack Obama has nominated an American health expert and Dartmouth professor, Jim Yong Kim, for the top job. Other contenders are Okonjo-Iweala herself who is backed by the African Union (AU) and the former Colombian Finance Minister, Jose Antonio Ocampo. 

US President Barack Obama, US Nominee For World Bank Presidency, Jim Yong Kim, US Secretary Of State, Hillary Clinton, During The Announcement Of The US Nominee In The Rose Garden At The White House On  Friday, March 23, 2012

Okonjo-Iweala, a former World Bank managing director, thinks that since the bank is focusing on development, the weak economies which are the targets of such developmental efforts ought to be allowed stronger voice in the running of the bank. She called for a “contestable process” in the selection of the bank’s leadership. 

“Many developing countries are very desirous to see this. They may not necessarily be saying they support Okonjo-Iweala, but they will be saying we support a contestable process,” she said.  

Okonjo-Iweala is also Nigeria's Coordinating Minister of the Economy. A decision to remove the subsidy on fuel in Nigeria recently led to serious civil crises which paralyzed activities in the country for several days. Most people thought she was the architect of the policy.  But most African leaders believe she is the best person for the World Bank job. And she thinks so herself.  

Time To Say Goodbye: Robert Zoelick: His Tenure
As World Bank President Ends June 30

"I’m not a typical bureaucrat, and not a typical World Banker either. I’ve come in and out. Someone like me can hit the ground running. I don’t have a steep learning curve,” she told Financial Times  

“I think that the World Bank matters so much to many of the world’s poor, it matters so much to emerging market countries, so I think this time they need to get it right. I can’t do better than demand they stick to their words. If they fail then it will be for the world to judge them,” she said.  

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Being Greeted By Her Greatest
Supporter, President Goodluck Jonathan

Meanwhile, the Financial Times has endorsed her for the job. In an editorial on Tuesday, March 27, 2012, the paper said that the new president of the World Bank “should have a command of macroeconomics, the respect of leaders of both the funding and the funded countries, and the management skills to implement his or her vision. These requirements make Ms Okonjo-Iweala the best person for the role… Having an African woman at the helm of the world’s leading development institution would send a strong signal both to developing and developed countries. … In this less than ideal world, Mr. Kim’s appointment seems inevitable. But if the Bank’s shareholders wanted the best president, they would opt for Ms Okonjo-Iweala.”

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