Sunday, April 1, 2012

Why Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Must lead The World Bank

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There is no better time for Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria to ascend the throne of the President of the World Bank than now when there is a new awakening in world politics and the clamour for gender equality is very loud. Change is the only thing that is constant; and the wind of change must blow in favour of the developing economies this time around.

The two world financial institutions – The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had been managed all along by America and Europe, making every other continent to play the second fiddle. The status quo has been that while Europe takes care of the IMF, America manages the World Bank; then others sit and watch.

With the election of Barak Obama as the first Black President of the United States and the election of Christine Lagarde as the first female President of IMF, it would be nice to balance the equation by also giving other continents a chance because the world really needs that change now more than ever.

Speaking on Thisday Live, the Nigeria Minister of Finance highlighted reasons why she is qualified to be the next President of the Apex institution. Apart from working in the institution for over 25 years, she has also held the position of the Vice President. If experience counts, then she is the most qualified of the three candidates contesting for the post.

America’s candidate, Jim Yong Kim, does not really qualify to manage the World Bank, considering the fact that his professional experience as a medical doctor is not enough to steer a financial institution of such magnitude. Though the odds favour Kim as America, Europe and Japan have over 50% of the voting power. The fact Kim is a Korean-American may make Asia to sympathetically vote for him.

Jose Anthonio Ocampo of Columbia does not pose any threat because apart from being a South American, he does not also possess the necessary credentials to give Iweala sleepless nights. South America therefore needs to do the right thing by ensuring that they ask all their supporters to vote en masse for Okonjo-Iweala and hope to be reciprocated when the time comes for them to vie for other important positions in the future.

Iweala already enjoys overwhelming support here in Africa with the Presidents of South Africa, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Cote d’ivoire, and the AU and ECOWAS endorsing her for the job. The Economist and the Financial Times newspapers of London have already endorsed her ahead of Jim Yong Kim and Jose Anthonio Ocampo because of the credentials she parades. She has the requisite experience to take the financial institution to the next level.

It does not mean that the developed nations have monopoly of knowledge and experience. If the world does not want to endorse mediocrity, then it has to give support to the right and best candidate, putting politics aside.

If all important positions go to the developed countries then the emerging economies and the under-developed economies would live in fears and do business with the developed economies under mutual suspicion. If a French woman in the person of Christine Lagarde is qualified to lead the IMF, then an African woman with much more professional and practical experiences should be allowed to lead the World Bank.

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