FT praises Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

The FT published an editorial on Tuesday arguing that Nigeria’s minister of the economy and finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, should get the World Bank presidency job. While recognising that the US candidate Jim Yong Kim “could be a good choice” because of his background in health and his managerial experience at the World Health Organisation, the FT states that “the Bank needs more than this”:

“Its new leader 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.”

The editorial also praises her “real-world experience of policy-making in one of the most challenging developing countries”, and her “unique knowledge” of the World Bank gained from serving as a managing director under Robert Zoellick, although it admits that “one risk could be the temptation not to challenge the status quo”.

“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.”

But what about the candidate nominated by Brazil, José Antonio Ocampo, who is barely mentioned by the FT? Judging by the preliminary results of the poll currently running on this blog, he should not be overlooked. Many people could argue that the Colombian former finance minister is at least as well qualified as Okonjo-Iweala, and some may even say that both are more appropriate candidates for the World Bank presidency than Kim. Jeff Sachs, who jumped the gun in announcing his candidacy to the post only to drop out last week in favour of Kim’s nomination by the US, does not think so:

“Kim is one of the world’s great leaders in public health. He has worked with another great public-health leader, Paul Farmer, to pioneer the extension of treatment for AIDS, tuberculosis, and other diseases to the world’s poorest people. More recently, he has been President of Dartmouth College, a leading American university. He therefore combines professional expertise, global experience, and considerable management know-how – all perfect credentials for the World Bank presidency.”

4 thoughts on “FT praises Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

  1. I agree with Anyi that corruption is the bane of Nigerian government which Dr. Okonjo-Iweala is a big player after the President of the country. In fact, it does not seem she is one who seriously frowns at the ever growing rate of corruption in Nigeria. Another issue is that she does not seem to have that humane feelings towards the suffering masses of Nigeria, hence her economic policies, as the minister of finance and the country’s chief economic coordinator, are tailored to benefit the political class and public office holders at the expense of the masses.

  2. The outgoing President of WB noted on CNN two days ago that one of the big issues that the new WB President has to deal with is to continue the fight against corruption in some member countries. As I see it, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s handicap in the race is not necessarily her qualifications, but rather the notoreity of her native country Nigeria where corruption is extremely rampant. She might encounter a lot of problems trying to root out corruption. To prepare for next time, this might be a good opportunity for her to intensify her efforts in fighting corruption in Nigeria, and next time around she will have a better chance of getting the WB Head job.

  3. SFT’s editorial ended stating “But if the Bank’s shareholders wanted the best president they would opt for Ms Okonjo-Iweala”. And I had to inform them it was not necessarily the shareholders who had to do so!

    According to the articles of incorporation of the World Bank, the Executive Directors, those who are to name the president, “shall be responsible for the conduct of the general operations of the Bank, and for this purpose, shall exercise all the powers delegated to them by the Board of Governors.”

    And those articles equally state “The Bank and its officers shall not interfere in the political affairs of any member; nor shall they be influenced in their decisions by the political character of the member or members concerned. Only economic considerations shall be relevant to their decisions, and these considerations shall be weighed impartially in order to achieve the purposes”

    And so I asked FT in a letter, if you believe that for instance Ms Okonjo-Iweala is a better candidate, why do you not ask for instance UK’s Executive Director at the World Bank, why he would not vote for her?

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