The World Bank may not be having an African president any time soon; however, history has been made as Nigeria has produced the first African and the first female to run for the number one position in the bank.
The presidency of World Bank has been exclusive to the United States since it was founded in 1944 and has never been held by a woman.
After the elections by the 25-member Executive board of the bank yesterday, the United States of America nominee, Jim Yong Kim was selected as the new president.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s bid for the position not only posed a strong challenge to her opponent, but put Africa as a big contender to America who has held the bank’s presidency for 11 successive times.
As Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi noted, the acceptance of the candidature of Africa’s candidate is “clear evidence that the bank is prepared to embrace a paradigm change from perceptions that have not been of benefit to the global economy”.
She was backed by some African countries including Angola and South Africa, and the African Union also endorsed her candidacy. Her chances of clinching the position was further increased when the third candidate, Jose Antonio Ocampo, Colombia’s former finance minister and University professor pulled out of the race last Friday to shore up support for Okonjo-Iweala.
According to BBC, the new president is a health expert who has been lauded for his pioneering role in treating HIV/Aids and reducing the impact of tuberculosis in the developing world.
US nominee Jim Yong Kim has been chosen as the new president of the World Bank.
The Korean-American health expert is president of Dartmouth College in the US state of New Hampshire.
He faced a strong challenge for the post, which has traditionally gone to an American, from Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
Dr Kim will succeed Robert Zoellick, serving a five-year term beginning on 1 July, the World Bank said in a statement.
Aged 52, Jim Yong Kim is a doctor lauded for his pioneering role in treating HIV/Aids and reducing the impact of tuberculosis in the developing world.
US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said the new president’s background would be valuable in the role.
“His deep development background coupled with his dedication to forging consensus will help breathe new life into the World Bank’s efforts to secure fast economic growth that is widely shared,” Mr Geithner said in a statement.
And outgoing president Mr Zoellick added: “Jim has seen poverty and vulnerability first-hand, through his impressive work in developing countries.
Okonjo- Iweala, Nigeria’s Finance Minister and a former Managing Director of World Bank might have lost, but her loss was a gallant one. Earlier yesterday in Abuja before the new President was announced, she conceded that she would lose to her American opponent adding that the selection of a World Bank president was not based on merit.
“I want people to know what is happening and that is that they are voting. This thing is not really being decided on merit, it is voting with political weights and shares and therefore the U.S will get it,” she said.
When her audience chorused “no”, she added, “I know all of you are praying that a miracle happens and we all believe in God Almighty, but God has also given us common sense to know that they are going to use their weight to get it.”
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala might not have won the World Bank presidency, but her tenacity and courage to run for the post in the midst of so many challenges and criticism was surely a victory for women and a victory for Africa.
“We have made the process for electing the World Bank president different; it will never ever be the same again. We have shown that we can contest this thing and Africa can produce people capable of running the entire architecture of the bank.”
News Source: BBC | Punch News