Okonjo-Iweala gets ringing endorsement from The Economist for World Bank top job

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

The unofficial talking head of global capitalism, and perhaps the world’s most influential business newspaper, The Economist, has offered a five-star endorsement of Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as president of the World Bank, seriously questioning the suitability her closest rival, Jim Yong Kim, the American public-health professor whom Barack Obama wants to impose on the bank, as America’s nominee.

In the lead editorial for its March 31 issue, The Economist says a World Bank chief needs: “experience in government, in economics and in finance… He or she should have a broad record in development, too. Ms Okonjo-Iweala has all these attributes… Jim Yong Kim, the American public-health professor whom Barack Obama wants to impose on the bank, has at most one.”

This endorsement comes barely 48 hours after another global leader in financial journalism, The Financial Times, also called on global support for Ms. Okonjo-Iweala’s candidacy.

The Economist, in its editorial, also slammed the tradition of imposing leaders on the world’s two leading financial regulatory institutions between Europe and the United States calling the practice an “indefensible carve-up.” Since the founding of the Bretton Woods institutions, the United States has chosen the head of the World Bank and Europe the head of the International Monetary Fund.

“This shabby tradition has persisted,” says The Economist, “because it has not been worth picking a fight over, adding, “The gap between Mr. Kim and Ms. Okonjo-Iweala changes the calculation. It gives others a chance to insist on the best candidate, not simply the American one.”

The paper admitted that though “Ms Okonjo-Iweala is an orthodox economist, which many will hold against her. But if there is one thing the world has discovered about poverty reduction in the past 15 years, it is that development is not something rich countries do to poor ones. It is something poor countries manage for themselves, mainly by the sort of policies that Ms Okonjo-Iweala has pursued with some success in Nigeria.”

Calling on the third candidate, former Colombian finance minister José Antonio Ocampo, to “bow out gracefully,” the paper claims that though he has more qualifications than Kim but they are fewer than those of Ms. Okonjo-Iweala.

Ms Okonjo-Iweala has earned rave reviews as managing director of the World Bank in 2007-11, and on account of her formidable resume as a public economist.

The article ends by declaring: “May the best woman win.” 



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  • Lanre

    Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala looks like an opportunist to me and the Economist is made up of young idealists who have no experience in life.

    • Word4rmdManger

      Witch craft is not only a matter of diabolism but also includes the endermic pull him down syndrome and prevalent ethnicism in Nigeria. “If she not our own let her fail” such is the common mindset. “Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala looks like an opportunist to me” what an unfortunate self centerd opinion! Lanre you could do better than this.

      • Lanre

        Word4rmdManger. No I am sorry I can’t do better than this. Part of my current research is to study the effects of cuts in social services, so-called subsidy removals on economic growth and development. Nobody should be given handouts but countries like Nigeria where the leaders are the richest in society do not fit the norm. Personally, I feel Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala will be better off running a Private Bank (commercial or investment) where all they do is to look at the numbers. Anybody that can justify a policy that increases the price of an important commodity (like fuel) in a single day (without as much of a backup plan for the disadvantaged in society); only to advise the head of government that the increase will dissuade people in Lagos from driving too many cars is insensitive. One important attribute of governance is empathy. Nigerian rulers, nay all of them in Abuja do not have it. Hence, while my personal opinion does not matter in this, I believe Mrs. Iweala leaving a high profile job in Nigeria for another high profile one reeks of opportunism. It would have been better if she stayed back in Washington and jostled for the post from there.

        • Adefayon

          The world has seen the great quality in our own Dr. Iweala. I believe Nigerians should also take some lessons in trying to appreciate what we have.

  • ifeanyi

    @lanre because the so called lagos won’t survive the fuel subidy with the north that’s why you guys kicked against it. An average Igbo person know that in a competitive enviroment is where progess is seen. Yoruba has been the opportunist in everything in Nigeria. Okonjo merited it and nothing you research will amount to her astute.

    • Lanre

      Ifeanyi, Ezetrollugburubgburundigboniranu. There are more successful Igbo Businessmen in Lagos and Abuja than in Igboland. Obviously you have no education and are not exposed that is why you have derailed my healthy criticism of Okonjo Iweala and reduced it to ethnic baiting and bigotry. Obviously you must be coming from your okija shrine where they have told you all Yorubas and Hausas hate Igbos.
      For your information, in addition to being an opportunistic move, I believe Mrs. Okonjo Iweala is selfish. It’s all about her. Whether she becomes the World Bank president or not will not change anything about me. Now let me leave the floor for you to educate me on how the Yorubas lost the Biafran war and are now begging for food from the Igbos.

  • Adefayon

    It is not only the Economics that endorsed Dr. Iweala, great minds and authority on global finance have done so! Up Iweala