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You are here:Home>>Strategic Research & Analysis>> Appoint Okonjo-Iweala to Head World Bank
Wednesday, 07 March 2012 14:29

Appoint Okonjo-Iweala to Head World Bank

Written by Harold E. Doley, Jr
Nigerian finance minister Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Nigerian finance minister Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

 

Harold E. Doley, Jr., a former United States executive director to the African Development Bank writes below that President Barack Obama should nominate Nigerian finance minister Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as next president of the World Bank

 

In less than one month, the nominating period for the post of president of The World Bank Group will close. A month later, the bank's 25 executive directors will select the new president to replace Robert Zoellick, who is stepping down June 30.

 

By tradition, the United States has named an American to head the World Bank and the Europeans have chosen one of their own to lead the International Monetary Fund. The bank's institutions were founded shortly after World War II and its operations are focused on poverty reduction in the developing world. In this climate of global economic change and emerging economic powers, there is a clamor for the selection of the next president to be based upon competition and merit, irrespective of country of origin.

 

It is noteworthy that the tradition of the U.S. nominating an American to the presidency has in recent times been overcome by the selection of an individual who became a naturalized U.S. citizen, and who subsequently regained his original citizenship upon completion of his terms. This president, James Wolfensohn, was universally considered to be an outstanding leader of the bank and his appointment shows that that a qualified non-American can in fact be named to and confirmed in the post.

 

As an internationally-focused capital markets operator, with long experience of, and commitment to, increasing investment flows to emerging and frontier markets and to global poverty reduction, I urge President Barack Obama to nominate as the leader of the World Bank Dr.

Dr. Ngozi OkonJo-Iweala,  Nigerian finance minister (left);Olugbenga Ashiru; Femi Otedola and Atedo Peterside at the end of the Economic Team meeting

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Coordinating Minister for the Economy, and Minister of Finance for the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

 

In nominating Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, President Obama would achieve three things:

 

First, he would underscore the importance of merit by selecting the most qualified person for this important position. Prior to her current, second tenure as Nigeria's Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala served as the managing director of the World Bank from 2007 to 2011.

 

Under her leadership, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala fearlessly combated corruption, cut Nigeria's looming debt burden, and pushed for good governance and transparency. She also forged effective relationships with many of the world's leaders, in the U.S., Africa, China and elsewhere in Asia, and Europe, and she maintains the respect of these leaders today.

 

Second, President Obama would broaden U.S. international interests by choosing an American-educated, globally-respected female leader from the developing world who has played an integral role in the bank's recent development.

 

Dr. Okonjo-Iweala is a Harvard University graduate (A.B. 1977, magna cum laude) and holds a doctorate in urban and regional planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She previously served as the World Bank's vice-president and corporate secretary, before taking a leave of absence to return to Nigeria, where she served first as finance minister and later as foreign minister, between 2003 and 2006. Dr.

 

Okonjo-Iweala was the first woman to hold either of those positions in Nigeria.

 

During her tenure in these positions, she is credited for building strong ties with the U.S. and closer ties between American and Nigerian businesses. She engineered a landmark deal with the Paris Club of bilateral creditors to pay a significant portion of Nigeria's external debt (U.S. $12 billion) in return for an $18 billion debt write-off.

 

In nominating Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, President Obama would capture the experience of someone who knows the mission and inner workings of what is often perceived as a mysterious institution. Indeed, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala was a senior advisor and confidant to the last three presidents of the institution. She is respected by the world's leaders, economists, and scholars for her intellect and management style.

 

Given her hands-on experience, diplomatic skills and familiarity with the complementary roles of the sister Bretton Woods Institutions, Dr.

 

Okonjo-Iweala would have no learning curve coming in to the helm of the bank.

 

Finally, Nigeria is poised to join the emerging market leaders now known as the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) nations. By nominating a candidate widely respected by the BRICS, yet not currently in their fold, President Obama will avoid favoring one rising economic engine over another.

 

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala would become the 12th president of the World Bank, following 11 American males. She will bring to that office her years of committed work on poverty reduction, the respect of world leaders from both North and South, and a knowledge and understanding of what the World Bank needs at this critical period of global economic volatility.


Ambassador Harold E. Doley, Jr., is the founder of Doley Securities, LLC, the oldest African American-owned investment banking firm in the United States. He has been an appointee in five Republican administrations, including serving as United States executive director to the African Development Bank from 1983 to 1985.

 

 

 

 

Last modified on Wednesday, 07 March 2012 14:37

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