News

    Nigeria FM Called 'Africa's Candidate' for World Bank President

    Bill Gates, right, and Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala attend a panel session at the World Economic Forum in Davos, January 26, 2012.
    Bill Gates, right, and Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala attend a panel session at the World Economic Forum in Davos, January 26, 2012.
    Heather Murdock

    As the World Bank interviews Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as a candidate for its next president, academics, human rights organizations and regional bodies across Africa are supporting Okonjo-Iweala, with some calling her "Africa's candidate."

    At the same time, Africans across the continent are calling on the United States to step aside.

    In the 68 years since the World Bank's founding, an American has always held the job of president, while a European has always headed the International Monetary Fund.  

    In recent years, this dynamic has led to complaints that the West has too much say in organizations that are intended to benefit emerging economies.  Many Africans say they should be led by people who are actually from these economies.

    Nigerian political scientist Hussaini Abdu, with the anti-poverty group ActionAid says that if Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is chosen to head the World Bank, it would give the institution credibility in countries that do not trust it.

    "The significance is the fact that the leadership of the World Bank will be going to the global south.  Historically, the global south has seen itself as a victim of the World Bank, not as a beneficiary of the World Bank," said Abdu.

    On the streets of Nigeria's capital, locals say that if the selection process is fair and transparent, their finance minister is the obvious choice.  A graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University, and a former World Bank managing director, Okonjo-Iweala is competing for the bank's top spot with Colombia's former finance minister, José Antonio Ocampo and U.S. President Barack Obama's nominee, Dartmouth College President Jim Yong Kim.

    On a sweltering sidewalk in Abuja, local election official Abdullahi Bello smiles as he discusses Okonjo-Iweala's nomination.

    "I think [the] World Bank will need someone like her - an insider," said Bello.  "I see [her] as an insider because she has worked with the World Bank before.  I think she will do well, if given the opportunity."

    But not everyone in Nigeria supports the finance minister, especially earlier this year when she helped Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan cut a decades-old fuel subsidy that economists say institutionalized corruption and slowed economic development.  

    Prices from virtually everything to gas to food to school fees soared, causing nationwide protests.  

    At a market in Abuja, Shaibu Anibe, 42, a businessman and father of three children, says most Nigerians no longer blame the minister for the country's situation.  He says people now better understand the cut, and object only to the abruptness of the decision.

    "If you know you are going to remove the fuel subsidy, give six months, eight months, one year notice.  You should be able to convince Nigerians on why it should be removed," said Anibe.

    As Okonjo-Iweala's bid gains momentum, experts say the World Bank is under increasing pressure to consider her for the seat.  Originally nominated by South Africa, Nigeria and Angola, the minister later won endorsements from the African Union, regional leaders, the Nigerian presidency, and news organizations across the continent and beyond, including from The Economist magazine and The Guardian newspaper in Britain.  

    Other leaders, including World Bank President Robert Zoellick, who is stepping down at the end of June, have said that picking a non-American might be a mistake because it could lead to loss of American interest in and funding for the international organization.

    Political scientist Hussaini Abdu calls the idea "ridiculous."

    "We don't actually think that the world should continue to be blackmailed by what America is actually putting out there," said Abdu.  "I think America should accept that when America is making such contributions, it is only making the contribution to increase its influence."

    The World Bank has promised a fair and transparent process and is expected to announce its decision later this month.  Although all of candidates have powerful supporters around the world, some Nigerians are calling their finance minister, "Africa's pride."

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Alex
    April 14, 2012 7:05 AM
    Interesting Ngozi is now "Africa's candidate" NOT Nigerian. Good PR. Here is a blogger's take why the Nigerian will not get the job.
    http://etrecycler.blogspot.com/2012/04/next-world-bank-president.html

    by: almoros idriss
    April 13, 2012 5:38 AM
    Nigeria itself is in great need of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo rather than the world bank; to fight its great corrupted financial systems where tens of millions of poor Nigerians have had been suffering with less than two dollars a day over their rich oil and other natural resouces! Ever be for Nigeria, Dr Ngozi Okonjo for great developments and big refineries to satisfy Nigerians and the region!

    by: Rilwan S. Kadiri
    April 12, 2012 7:20 AM
    Going by her position in her country(Nigeria) as the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance couple with her experience as a former Director in the World Bank ,Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iwela is the candidate among the three contestants for the position. So I call on the Europe and Americans to support and vote for her.

    by: Don wisdom
    April 12, 2012 4:24 AM
    Dr Ngozi Okonjo- is the best for thkis position

    by: fayo
    April 11, 2012 2:26 PM
    @Gideon. Dr. Iweala is not running away from serving Nigeria. Her presidency of the World Bank will sure be in the interest of Nigerians

    by: Gideon
    April 11, 2012 8:35 AM
    Is Nigeria benefitting from Okonjo-Iweala now? She is running away again! Ngozi claimed she left the world bank to serve her fatherland. And now she is running back to the same world bank. To me, being a minister of finance and coordinating minister to Nigeria is more prestigious than being the world bank president.

    by: NVO
    April 11, 2012 6:41 AM
    The World Bank: Hand in hand with the Trilateral Commission, The Bilderbergs, The Rothschilds, The Rockefellers, The Clintons, The Counsel On Foreign Relations. ALL pushing for a ONE WORLD GOVERNMENT, under THE NEW WORLD ORDER. BEWARE!

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora