Thursday, 5 April 2012

Nigeria's Finance Minister for World Bank president?

A group of 39 former World Bank officials have written an open letter backing Nigeria's Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to be its next president. Traditionally, the post is given to the candidate put forward by the US, who at the moment is Dr Jim Yong Kim.

Three candidates are up for the job, including former World Bank managing director Okonjo-Iweala, former finance minister of Colombia Jose Antonio Ocampo and public health expert and president of Dartmouth College Dr Jim Yong Kim. This is the first time World Bank has had to make a decision of this kind.

World Bank will be holding interviews next week and is planning to select the successor to its outgoing president Robert Zoellick by 20 April, in time for its spring meetings with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The letter, written by a number of prominent officials, including Tunisia's Central Bank Chief Mustapha Nabli, said: "We believe that Mrs Okonjo-Iweala has outstanding qualifications across the full range of relevant criteria.”

In an unwritten agreement, the US always choses its own person for the post of World Bank president; while Europe appoints a European candidate as the Head of the IMF. Christine Lagarde, a French national, is Europe's latest appointment to the IMF.

The letter adds that Okonjo-Iweala "would bring the combination of her experience as finance and foreign minister of a large and complex African country with her wide experience of working at all levels of the Bank's hierarchy in different parts of the world, from agricultural economist to managing director". It also notes that "she would be the outstanding World Bank president the times call for".

Sources: BBC News, Reuters, Bloomberg

For more news and expert analysis about Nigeria, please see Nigeria Focus and Nigeria Politics & Security.

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