As the battle for the presidency of the World Bank toughens, finance experts are gravitating towards the candidacy of Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who recently described herself as the candidate of choice for the developing world.
London’s Financial Times, in a flowery review of Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala, pronounced her “the best person for the role”.
“If the Bank’s shareholders wanted the best president, they would opt for Ms Okonjo-Iweala,” the international business newspaper said in its Tuesday’s editorial piece.
FT’s broad argument in favour of Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala, who currently serves as Nigeria’s Finance Minister, harps in on several factors which they consider as her strengths over her major contender, Jim Yong Kim, who has been handpicked by the US government as their candidate of choice.
While on previous occasions, America’s endorsement implied an automatic appointment into the coveted position based on an arrangement that assigns the World Bank presidency to the US and the position of the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to Europe, recent agitation especially from developing countries, the main focus of the World Bank, has put the US in an uncomfortable position.
Questions and arguments have emerged over the validity of imposing candidates from the developed world to tackle issues in the World Bank which mainly concern the development of the so called Third World.
FT raises arguments in this regard and chides President Barack Obama for not taking this current dissatisfaction from developing countries into consideration.
The newspaper said that Mr. Obama’s choice, albeit with impeccable records, did not quite meet up with the requirements for the position.
“But 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.
“Ms Okonjo-Iweala has real-world experience of policy-making in one of the most challenging developing countries. Her experience in tackling corruption would be helpful in the battle against the misuse of Bank funds,” the newspaper argues.
FT also seemed to corroborate Mrs.Okonjo-Iweala’s claims that she has the support of developing countries, describing this advantage as the “more symbolic aspect” of her candidature.
“Ms Okonjo-Iweala’s merits are amplified by another, more symbolic aspect. 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.”
Interviews for the three candidates for the World Bank Presidency have been fixed for the 4th, 9th and 11th April.
The decision on the winner is expected to be announced on the 11th.
If selected, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala would be the first non-American to head the organization.