Monday, April 9, 2012

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to face World Bank panel today

Nigeria’s Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who is in the race for the World Bank Presidency, will face the panel of interviewers at the bank’s headquarters in Washington DC Monday.

She is in the race with Colombian national and professor at Columbia University, Jose Antonio Ocampo, who will take his turn tomorrow and Dr. Jim Yong Kim - a Korean-American Physician, nominated by the United States - whose interview session has been scheduled for Wednesday.

A presidency source who disclosed this to THISDAY said given the torrent of support that had poured in for  Okonjo-Iweala, she had been encouraged to move on  and had vowed to fight to the end.

The source said: “This is a historic battle because this is the first time in over six decades, American domination is being challenged and the developing world is being considered and supported by the leading light of the western world.”

Okonjo-Iweala has been widely acclaimed to be the most qualified candidate for the multilateral development institution’s top position and has been endorsed by various globally respected newspapers.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs Sunday charged Nigerian envoys in various countries across the world to build diplomatic support for Okonjo-Iweala.

Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Hon. Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje, said that as representatives of the government and people of Nigeria abroad, the envoys have a duty to intensify the lobby for Okonjo-Iweala to get the highly rated job at the World Bank.

Elendu-Ukeje told journalists that part of the reason Nigeria established diplomatic missions in several countries was to use them to constructively engage them in furtherance of Nigeria's economic and political interests.

According to her, diplomatic postings were meant to select the best hands that could use the diplomatic platform to advance the aspirations of Nigeria on a number of issues including Foreign Direct Investments (FDI).

"One of our aspirations within Nigeria today is to see one of ours heading the World Bank and I believe that since it is something that goes with horse trading, with a lot of countries, we will need to get across to other countries and rally support for her.

“I know that Africa has already endorsed her but of course we only have 19 votes as a continent. I know that we have missions in many countries and I believe Nigerian missions abroad would do their best in this regard,” she said.

The three-way fight between Okonjo-Iweala, Ocampo and Kim, is attracting increasingly passionate comment from candidates' supporters.

It has also shone a light on the way the World Bank chooses its head.

The US, which is the bank's largest shareholder, has always picked the bank's president.

The country, Europe and Japan have 54 per cent of the votes.

Under an informal arrangement, in return, Europe appoints a European as head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), a sister Bretton Woods institution. It is currently run by Frenchwoman, Christine Lagarde.

Emerging economies have become increasingly unhappy with this system and are pushing for change.

The leaders of Russia, Brazil, China, India and South Africa recently called for a review of that weighted voting system.

The nations, sometimes referred to as the BRICS countries, are working to choose a joint candidate, according to the Brazilian Finance Minister, Guido Mantega.

This Day

Related stories: Video - Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala speaks to CNN's Richard Quest about her bid for World Bank top job

 New York Times supports Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for World Bank president

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