Will Obama choose to make history ?

The race for the next President of the World Bank’s Group just got a whole lot more interesting with the formal nomination of former Managing Director and current Finance Minister of Nigeria; Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, and, the less exciting, former Colombian Finance Minister Jose Antonio Ocampo . Ngozi’s nomination will, no doubt, make it very hard for the US Administration to put forward a credible nominee that can match her skill and reputation, even if they nominate a woman. Most of the representatives of the developing countries on the board of the World Bank are expected to line up behind Ngozi. The one and only thing missing from Ngozi’s CV is a US nationality. The Obama administration will certainly have to choose now between naming a formidable African woman with one of the best CVs in the World for this position or simply choose an American. I hope someone in the White House is using their eyes and can see the incredible opportunity right before President Obama this week, if he chooses to grab it. He can, of course, always give Ngozi a US passport, like President Clinton did with James Wolfensohn. The process is supposed to calumniate with interviews for no more than 3 final candidates and an announcement of the new President by mid-April.

5 thoughts on “Will Obama choose to make history ?

  1. Pingback: World Bank Presidency: Will Obama choose to make history ? – The World From African Perspective.

  2. James Wolfensohn had his US passport long before President Clinton nominated him to be World Bank president. His CV was far more impressive than any of the candidates on offer so far, and he was unmatched for charisma and vision. He also got things done. A controversial figure, to be sure, but one who reshaped the World zbank’s and the ret of the development business.

    No candidate is perfect, and Ngozi certainly is no match for Hillary Clinton.

    Ask around in the Bank and you’ll get a far less glowing account of Ngozi’s return as a Managing Director for Robert Zoellick. Mixed, and certainly not to the high standard of decisiveness and results focus Shengman Zhang brought with far less drama and personalization, too.

  3. Without meaning to take away any merits from other developing world candidates like Jose Antonio Ocampo, since when as an Executive Director of the World Bank 2002-2004 I had the chance to see Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala acting as vice-president and corporate secretary, I must say that I am sure she would be a great president, in these times fraught with so many difficulties.

    That said I have nonetheless never been much of a fanatic on this issue, as sometimes I get the feeling it might be better to live with a quite transparent USA monopoly in the appointment of the World Bank president, than with a perhaps less transparent meritocracy appointment monopoly. There are of course always clear advantages in knowing, without a doubt, who you are dealing with.

    But, if we from the developing countries are finally not able to name a worthy non American president to the World Bank, then let us at least hope, for the World Banks sake, and our own, that someone solid neutral, non-controversial and acceptable to as a wide part of America as possible is named, because otherwise, we might end up not having the cake nor being able to eat it. Is Hillary Clinton such a person? Could be! But, just in case, in my book, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is just as good.

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