The African Union has given a resounding support to the candidacy of Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for president of the World Bank.
Nominations for the post were concluded last Friday.
In a statement Monday, the AU said the “impeccable credentials of Dr. Okonjo-Iweala make her the best candidate for the position.
It described her as a development professional who spent more than two decades at the World Bank before becoming the finance minister of Nigeria.
Ambassador Harold E. Doley, Jr. is the first U.S. Executive Director to the African Development Bank.
He wrote an article earlier this month supporting the nomination of Dr. Okonjo-Iweala.
Doley said that like the African Union, he believes Dr. Okonjo-Iweala has undisputed credentials to be the next president of the World Bank.
“Dr. Ngozi, without a doubt, was and is the best qualified person to lead the Bank. Her credentials are second to none. She has been at the World Bank for 21 years; she is an economist Ph.D. from MIT with undergraduate degree from Harvard,” he said.
Amb. Doley described this year’s selection process as a watershed moment in terms of opening up the World Bank to full participation and moving beyond what he calls the so-called gentleman’s agreement.
“The process, as she has spoken about it, she only asks for a level playing field so that she can participate as a candidate and be able to forth her program for the Bank. And hopefully the world media would cover this debate at the World Bank for these three candidates,” Doley said.
In its endorsement of Dr. Okonjo-Iweala’s candidacy, the African Union said the crux of development issues in the world today resides in Africa, and therefore, the World Bank needs to have at its helm someone with deep knowledge and expertise in a wide-range of development issues.
Amb. Doley said Africa stands to benefit greatly if Okonjo-Iweal is selected president of the World Bank.
“The greatest resource that a country has is its citizenry, and the idea of putting forth a qualified African or a qualified person to run the world’s development institution. Where are the Africans in development? As you brought out, Africa has the greatest development needs, and they should be better represented at the Bank, at the IMF and other multi-lateral institutions,”
Doley said Okonjo-Iweal can get the Bank presidency if developing countries unite behind her candidacy and with the endorsement of one developed country.
“What needs to happen is for the developing countries to coalesce behind her candidacy, and you will need one of the major developed countries to support her, and that most likely candidate would be France,” Doley said.
He said France, with its dependence on Africa for its economic growth and triple “A” bond rating must support Dr. Ngozi for the presidency of the World Bank.