Nigeria World Bank candidate salutes Kim, calls for change
The Nigerian challenger to head the World Bank congratulated Korean-American physician Jim Yong Kim on his appointment to the post on Monday, but called for changes to the US-dominated selection process.
Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, an ex-World Bank managing director seen as a strong candidate to break the US lock on the post, said her campaign had put a spotlight on a process that had not been based on merit.
“Dr Kim already phoned me and we had an excellent conversation,” Okonjo-Iweala told reporters. “I would like to congratulate Dr Jim Yong Kim on his emergence as president of the World Bank Group …
“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.”
The respected economist said despite falling short in her bid to head the bank, her candidacy, which marked the first-ever challenge to US domination of the post, had helped contribute to change.
“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,” she said.
“I think we have given everyone food for thought in moving this process along and in changing the way that the World Bank president will be chosen next time. The clock cannot be turned back again on this process.”
She had earlier in the day said the appointment was “not really being decided on merit.”
Under a tacit agreement since the Bretton Woods institutions were founded nearly 70 years ago, the United States has always put a US national at the helm of the World Bank and Europe has picked a European to lead the International Monetary Fund.
The US nominee faced a challenge for the first time in 66 years from two strong developing country candidates.
The other candidate, former Colombian finance minister Jose Antonio Ocampo, dropped out on Friday complaining that the selection process was all political.
Okonjo-Iweala emerged a candidate for the World Bank presidency with developing economies pushing for greater influence at the 187-nation lender.
She took over as Nigeria’s finance minister in August, her second time in the role, after serving as World Bank managing director from 2007 to 2011.
The 57-year-old previously served as Nigeria’s finance minister between 2003 and 2006 and was lauded for having negotiated the cancellation of 18 billion dollars of Nigeria’s debt. She also served briefly as foreign minister.
Since again becoming finance minister in August, she has pushed for various reforms in Africa’s most populous nation and biggest oil producer, which has long been held back by deeply rooted corruption.
The Harvard and MIT-educated economist has held a number of posts at the World Bank besides managing director, the second-most powerful position at the institution.