BY CHUKS EHIRIM
Despite the fact that the United States of America already has a candidate in the race for World Bank Presidency, in the person of the South-Korean Jim Young Kim, the Nigerian Government has intensified the country’s campaign her candidate and current Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo –Iweala.
The Nigerian campaign has taken the shape of lobbying members of the diplomatic Corps in the country, including the Americans themselves who are said to hold the ace for who will eventually clinch the plum job.
The lobby was kick started by the Nigerian Minister of State l, for Foreign Affairs, Professor Viola Adaku Onwuliri, on Monday, when she addressed the foreign diplomats at the Ministry’s headquarters in Abuja. Speaking at the occasion, the Minister posited that Okon-Iweala who doubles as Nigeria’s Co- ordinating Minister for the Economy, has been nominated for the World Bank job and that her nomination is at the instance of the various Governments and leaders from across Africa. She added that the nomination also enjoys the full support of President Goodluck Jonathan.
She pleaded that the election should be transparent , adding that “Nigeria welcomes the commitment to open, transparent and merit –based selection for the World Bank President”. She urged that the “choices would be made by taking into account, the future of the institution rather than the nationalities of the candidates” .
Professor Onwuliri said that th3e Nigerian nominee enjoys the support of the entire African continent .”I am pleased to inform Your Excellencies that the Federal Government and ,indeed ,all of Africa, are proud of our candidate for this important position possesses impeachable academic and professional credentials , as well as technical and managerial expertise gained from within and outside the Bank”.
She informed the audience that “Dr Okonjo-Iweala has spent more than two decades in the World Bank, rising to the top management level as managing Director, the number two position in the Bank.
“For instance, as a two-time Minister of Finance for Nigeria-Africa’s most populous country- she has established a strong track record in economic management and capacity to successfully drive reforms”
She added that “in her most recent expanded role as Co-ordinating Minister for the Economy, she has been remarkably adept in managing cross –sectoral issues, ranging from agriculture to health, education and infrastructure. On another level, Dr Okonjo-Iweal’s earlier stint as Nigeria’s Foreign Minister has also helped to hone her diplomatic skills”.
She was said to have specifically reminded James Mcanulty, the American deputy Ambassador who stood in for his boss at the meeting, that he should convince his country to have a change of mind in her choice of candidate because the Nigerian candidate is based on merit and competence.
Mcanulty was said to have informed the gathering that his country already has her own candidate for the job and so may not yield to the pressure from Nigeria.
BY CHUKS EHIRIM