Demand for Nigerian Head of World Bank Intensifies

A growing consensus of international voices says Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is the best woman for the job.

Posted: 04/03/2012 02:02 PM EDT

Since Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was recommended for the top post at the World Bank by a handful of African nations just weeks ago, a growing chorus of supporters in favor of her candidacy has grown around the world as many hope public consensus will help the seasoned finance veteran snag the job.


Three candidates are in the running to become president of the World Bank, the world’s largest development agency, and this is the first year that non-American citizens are being formally considered for the job.


President Obama chose to nominate Asian-American Jim Yong Kim, the president of Dartmouth College and a global health expert; and Brazil nominated Columbia University professor José Antonio Ocampo. But since the nominations were announced just weeks ago, the world has focused most closely on Okonjo-Iweala, and the consensus seems to be that there is no competition.


"When judged by the Bank’s own criteria for the job, the highly respected Okonjo-Iweala dominates the other two candidates,” writes Mohamed A. El-Erian, CEO and co-chief investment officer of the global investment company PIMCO.


The Economist wrote in favor of Okonjo-Iweala, telling the bank to follow its own advice it gives to struggling nations to “reject cronyism and fill each important job with the best candidate available.”


And Nigerian lawmakers are busy lobbying for support among the world’s parliamentarians at this year’s Inter-Parliamentary Union conference taking place in Kampala, Uganda.


“It behooves on all eminent statesmen, key political figures and persons of international repute and influence with sympathy for developing nations to express their support for the continent’s quest to secure a paramount voice in the apex banking and development institution of the world,” Emeka Ihedioha, Nigeria’s deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, said, according to Vanguard.


Okonjo-Iweala has been very vocal about her personal belief in her own candidacy.


"You don't want to spend six months, a year, learning how the institution functions before you can lead — I can lead from the word go," she told CNN.


Okonjo-Iweala formerly worked as managing director of the World Bank, the second most powerful position for the institution, prior to taking her post as Nigeria’s finance minister in July 2011.


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