Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala says selection process not based on merit

Written on:April 17, 2023
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Photo: Spyghana

The Nigerian candidate for the post of World Bank president, Ngozi Okonjo-Iwealato, called for changes to the US-dominated selection process, after the World Bank appointed Jim Yong Kim, who was nominated for the post by US President Barack Obama, as its new chief.

The US, Japan and some western European countries, which have the major voting power at the bank, have always appointed an American for the post to balance European leadership at the International Monetary Fund, observers said.

However, during this selection process, Nigerian Finance Minister, who worked as World Bank managing director earlier, was seen as a strong candidate to break the American dominance. Commenting on the selection process, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said her campaign has brought the process, which is not based on merit, in the limelight.

“With regards to the selection process, it is clear to me that we need to make it more open, transparent and merit-based. We need to make sure that we do not contribute to a democratic deficit in global governance”, said Nigeria’s Finance Minister.

Despite her frustration with the selection process, Ngozi Okonjo-Iwealato congratulated the Korean-American physician. “Dr Kim already phoned me and we had an excellent conversation. I would like to congratulate Dr Jim Yong Kim on his emergence as president of the World Bank Group”, she told reporters.

In the straw poll, Okonjo-Iwealato won the votes of Brazil, Argentina, Switzerland and all three African directors despite US political pressure for a consensus. Besides the Nigerian Finance Minister, former Colombian Finance Minister Jose Antonio Ocampo was also doubtful about the selection procedure.

He withdrew from the race on Friday, saying the process had become highly political. However, Ngozi Okonjo-Iwealato, who is hopeful for a change, said, “Our credible and merit-based challenge to a long-standing and unfair tradition will ensure that the process of choosing a World Bank president will never be the same again.”

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