Nigeria’s Finance Minister and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala has been tipped for the top job at the World Bank by the Founder of the well respected Center for Global Development.
In a recent post, the Founder of the Center for Global Development, Dr. Nancy Birdsall argues that Dr. Okonjo Iweala is one of two top notch candidates who if nominated would surely make the World Bank’s board’s short list.
The other candidate who is a top contender for the post is India’s Nandan Nilekani, co-founder of INFOSYS. Nilekani is currently a Minister in India and according to Birdsall is currently managing one of the biggest development projects in the world—using biometric identification technology to transform the provision of private and public services to all Indians, including the poorest and most marginalized.
Nigeria’s growing relationship with China might very well tip the post in its favour.
According to Birdsall:
Either of these candidates, and any other non-American, would need the support of China to be credible. But they need not have that support to be nominated, and winning it might not be too farfetched. China might well support a developing country candidate at the World Bank – perhaps even an Indian (maybe in exchange for some other favor). China’s support for a Nigerian candidate would be easier still, given China’s engagement with Africa; indeed the United States and Europe might see some benefits in a Nigerian World Bank president helping ease current tensions over the different approaches of China and the West to investments and aid in Africa.
If Dr. Okonjo Iweala or her Indian contender lands the job, it will indeed be an epochal time in history as it would be the first time the World Bank would ever be led by a non-American.
Till now, under an unwritten gentlemanly agreement, the World Bank has always been led by an American while its sister organization, the IMF has always been led by a European.
The deadline for nominations for the post is March 23. The World Bank has set a goal of picking the new president by the World Bank-IMF meetings on April 20-22.
Other candidates tipped for the post include current U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton and curent U.S. Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner.
Meanwhile, Dr. Okonjo Iweala reportedly recently told the BBC that it is time to open it up to competition and that top jobs at international institutions should be filled on merit.
According to the BBC, on the unwritten agreement to fill the World Bank’s top job with an American and that of the IMF with a European, she said “times have changed and I think the way the positions are filled should change along with it”. “You need to change the weights within the institutions to reflect the modern world,” she continued.