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Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s Run For World Bank Presidency: A Victory for Africa



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

Adeola Adeyemo is a graduate of Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from University of Lagos. However, her passion is writing and she worked as a reporter with NEXT Newspaper. She believes that anything can be written about; anything can be a story depending on the angle it is seen from and the writer's imagination. When she is not writing news or feature articles, she slips into her fantasies and creates interesting fiction pieces. She blogs at


  1. Onoja

    April 17, 2012 at 12:55 am

    I agree with this post(African victory). But I strongly believe she has more work @ home than World bank.

    • femena

      April 17, 2012 at 1:34 am


  2. Gimmer

    April 17, 2012 at 1:49 am

    a woman after my heart

  3. Hotchick

    April 17, 2012 at 1:57 am

    Its great to see one constructive post. Very shocked @ Linda Ikeji’s blog. Goes to show my pea brain for reading stuff there anyways:-).

    I agree that fielding a candidate from a country – outside the U.S., might have impacts on future discourse on choosing the Banks President. Am I overly optimistic – No! But, very proud that the continent believed a citizen qualified enough to run.

    Its definitely in my books, despite the outcomes, a victory for developing countries- not just Africa. Congratulations Madam.

    • Lue

      April 17, 2012 at 12:45 pm

      mentioning LIB was not necessary…….everybody is entitled to their opinion

  4. jennietobbie

    April 17, 2012 at 2:07 am

    Mrs. Ngozi, I’m proud of you and I’m glad you blatantly called out the evils of politics. It’s America again, but we’re winning!! Congrats for making us proud.

  5. Lovinit

    April 17, 2012 at 6:22 am

    Welldone Bellanaija for putting it dz way! I see it as a victory for Africa and Okonjo-Iweala.

  6. faith

    April 17, 2012 at 7:12 am

    I am Happy She didn’t win….Now she can concentrate on Nigeria. I think she ȋ̊§ even needed more in Naija….

    • Rook

      April 17, 2012 at 1:43 pm

      Happy? You should be sad. She’s clueless on how to tackle our problems. Unless she go conjure up another debt buy back wey her personal Mgt firm go chop anoda $200m (5% of Total sum paid Paris club then)….lets see if BN will post my comment.

  7. Ginika

    April 17, 2012 at 8:30 am

    I’m super proud right now and I’m inspired.

    Well done so proud of her.

  8. nomad

    April 17, 2012 at 8:36 am

    Please, I’m pretty glad she didn’t win. Not because I think that she has more to do (what has she even achieved in the years she’s been minister here??) but because conversely, she was the more mainstream candidate. With Kim, at least, it might not be business as usual because as an outsider, he may have more leverage to commit to projects that actually have an impact on the developing world. I think NOI is a bureaucrat with more hype than actual deliverables and I say it sadly because the world needs a strong, African, female go-getter. NOI is not it.

  9. Eggy*Posh

    April 17, 2012 at 9:08 am

    Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has really succeeded in conning the entire continent just the way Barrack Obama conned the United States…the woman is a scam with no depth…I guess the powers that be didnt allow her win because she still has work to do for them in Nigeria…and when I mean work, I mean further enslaving the Nigerian economy to the IMF…the woman is just a puppet just like Kim who won the election…my opinion so if you dont like it close your eyes and move on…

    • Chikaka

      April 17, 2012 at 11:29 am

      I agree with you.
      Re-evil of politics, she should know about it because that’s all part and parcel of the government she’s part of.

  10. pynk

    April 17, 2012 at 9:13 am

    Lets call a space a spade. You can be a giant in the forest or a mouse in the city. I think Ngozi is better being a giant in NIgeria. While the world bank would have given her a global audience, her impact can be felt more in NIgeria. That said, if you have a bank account, you wont pick an outsider to take charge of your affairs if you have able bodied relatives at home.
    There isnt much that is global about the world Bank, truth of the matter is the countries funding it will determine its direction.

  11. ij

    April 17, 2012 at 9:22 am

    Though she lost, congratulations all the same , she did well to be nominated at all.

  12. Guest

    April 17, 2012 at 9:57 am

    Definitely a victory for women and Africa as a whole. Kudos to her.

  13. NikkyJay

    April 17, 2012 at 11:25 am

    I just love this woman Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. I look forward to meeting her someday.

  14. Kemi Fadeke

    April 17, 2012 at 11:29 am

    Well, that her name was shortlisted is enough victory for Africa. I have deep respect for this lady and i think she should have been given the position (if not for the bad image Nigeria has gathered for herself)

  15. theodora

    April 17, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    You have fought well ma! Still very proud of you! Now plz focus on nigeria

  16. Babe Again

    April 17, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    Well said Pynk! I admire NOI, I look up to her and wont stop doing so. The problem is Africa is never taken seriously, yet we pride ourself in so much mediocrity. Look at it this way,the US and EU member nations own 50% of the voting rights of the World Bank simply because they CONTRIBUTE. They bring the money, AFRICA borrows it and mismanages it. Ask yourself, will you entrust the bulk of your money to someone who has a history of squandering it? Little things we cannot get right; we debate electricity/corruption/unemployment/illiteracy/poverty just name the vice, we need to come to a realisation that until we start taking our selves seriously, no one will ever take us serious. We will continue to remain a “developing continent”. Yes, haters hate me for this! But you know I have said the truth. (BN please post my comment). **dropsmic**

  17. konnie

    April 17, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    After the disaster she has turned Nigeria into, I wish someone will take her of our hands

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