With Ngozi appearances deceive

Patrick Bond’s three part essay on the race for the presidency for the World Bank, published below, contains a long section on Ngozi. It is in part three and is well worth a read, as it one of the few times we have seen the Nigerain finance ministers record called seriously into question. Ngozi has been the subject of countless fawning op-eds from the commentariat in Washington and Europe, with very little analysis of her tenure at the Bank or in the Nigerian government. It seems strange that an elected official, nominated for such an important position, should not receive more scrutiny. She has run a smooth PR campaign thus far, and it seems journalists have exercised their energy on Kim, with little critical fuel left in the tank for Ngozi.

But Bond, an experienced scholar-activist who has lived and worked in South Africa for many years, and some other African activists, are beginning to reveal that all is not rosy with Ngozi (excuse the rhyme). Note this piece by Ikhide Ikheloa, who also complains of the lack of critical coverage of Ngozi:

The show of double standards is galling and maddening. Kim’s works have been given more scrutiny and rigorous analysis while Okonjo-Iweala has been described in patronizing terms with absolutely no mention of her views or documented works and her deadly role in the subsidy removal fiasco of this past January.

He goes on to say that:

When Okonjo-Iweala departs for the World Bank, she will be leaving Nigeria much worse than she found it. That is the most compelling reason why she deserves the World Bank presidency. Nigerians need a break.

There is also this piece by Desne Masie, which complains that:

There is no guarantee that with Okonjo-Iweala as figurehead, reform and fairness in the Bank’s policies would be substantive. To clamour for a World Bank president from an emerging market is a hollow exercise altogether. Though Okonjo-Iweala has done some good work with debt-relief, and is well-qualified and experienced in having spent time with the Bank (having served as its former managing director), this is part of the problem – she is a student of its present culture and rhetoric.

It includes the devastating line:

Africans pushing for Okonjo-Iweala to be at the World Bank’s helm would be much like turkeys voting for Christmas.

The coverage of Ngozi in the mainstream press has been superficial and shallow, mainly revolving around a bland truism: African, experienced, phd, worked at Bank, finance minister = good candidate. The pieces above add to the interesting insights from Bank staff on this blog about her management style, and together they are a refreshing rejoinder to what we’ve heard so far.

15 thoughts on “With Ngozi appearances deceive

  1. “To clamour for a World Bank president from an emerging market is a hollow exercise altogether.” How much more degrading and insulting can you get? What qualifies an American or European for the presidency of the World Bank much more than someone from an emerging. Market? Whoever wrote this rubbish just exposed the hollowness of his or her own thought processes, a prejudice of immense proportion and naivety of unforgivable level.

    • Dr Ngozi’s experience at d World bank, her expertise knowledge, d endearing role she played in securing d debt relief for Nigeria and her patriotic effort in ending d oppresissive and plutocratic subsidy regime; coupled with gender-based issues and d stance by emerging economies to have d age-long American hegemony broken, she has got an unfetterred stand.

  2. Indeed, the press has given Ngozi an easy time, seduced by her trademark charisma and direct charm. The fawning became a bit patronizing.

    Her record, in Nigeria and at the World Bank, both times in each case, needed more scrutiny. It is time it got a closer look.

    Although Patrick Bond’s excessive language diminished the ample evidence he offers about her record on job creation (now her signature issue) and on implementation of the fuel price increase, he did everyone a service by mentioning the undiscussables.

    As Ngozi prowls the hallways of the World Bank today (Tuesday) button-holing executive directors, they should ask her the questions they should have asked yesterday. South Africa and Angola (who share the same executive director with Nigeria) might usefully take the lead, since no one else will join their constituency.

    • Voice of Reason, it is shameful how desperate you have become. No matter what you write, people who don’t read the couched garbage you and Tom Fry dish out will make a decision. I say it is shameful because the more you latch on to straws, the more people question your true motives. Your colleague, Tom Fry has quoted a guy who once labeled Okonjo-Iweala an agent of the West when she agreed to accept the position as Finance Minister and Coordinating Minister of the Nigerian Economy. This is a guy who claimed that she came to do the West’s bidding when she accepted her job and even before she started. For him to be quoted by Tom Fry shows how silly and shallow this your debate has become. What an irony. Please before you guys go and extract write-ups by tainted and sponsored journalists representing vested interests, do some good research. Find out from Nigerians what is truly happening and don’t make fools of yourselves.

      • Hi John. For starters may I firstly say that although passionate, your reply is aggressive in it’s use of language, and is not in keeping with the open and analytical style of debate on this blog.

        Secondly, I’d like to be clear that this post is not specifically about Ngozi, but about the lack of critical engagement by the mainstream press of her record. It highlights instead three pieces by less mainstream commentators. One is an activist with Occupy Nigeria, the other a Professor at the University of KwazuluNatal, and the last a former senior editor for the Financial Mail in South Africa, currently studying towards a PhD in finance at the University of Edinburgh Business School. All have fair and legitimate credentials to contribute to what should be an open, analysis based debate, underlined by a tolerance of differences in opinion and interpretation.

        You accuse one of these (unnamed) of being “tainted and sponsored journalists representing vested interests”. Perhaps you’d like to elaborate on this point, and we can judge whether that persons opinions should be discounted?

        Lastly, it is worth mentioning that Voice of Reason is not my colleague, and is just another contributor to the blog. I’ve never met him.

        • I confirm that I have never met Tom Fry. I join him in wanting a fuller picture of the candidates’ records, however unsettling it may be for some to read. The abusive language used in some of the replies does little to advance the discussion.

  3. Fuel subsidy in Nigeria is a conduit for corruption. Powerful guys in corridors of power are major gainer. These guys control the media and other powerful organ of government.

    So, when Ngozi decided to agree with the 36 state governors of Nigeria to remove the subsidy, you can be assured that this powerful guys would only come after Dr. Iweala.

    The removal of fuel subsidy and the repayment of Nigeria’s debt was done in the interest of Nigeria. The status-quo would go all out to discredit that!

    • Removal of fuel subsidy, according to the defenders of the scheme, was meant to hurt the elites, but the experience after that ignoble act by Ngozi who was implementing The World Bank policy, does not hurt the rich but the poor masses of Nigeria. The effect of even the partial removal of the subsidy has today impoverished 97% of Nigerians the more, in that, inflation has gone up 100% higher than before. The policy was a very unpopular one, therefore, for anybody to use that strangulating and unpopular policy to measure the successes or achievements of Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, and give her a pass mark, is a disservice to the world. Moreover, I cannot vouch for this lady’s integrity, as I would have expected her to resign her appointment with Nigerian government immediately the subsidy removal was reversed, though partially, because she gave the impression that her life depended on full implementation of that sadistic policy and nothing could change it.

      • you really need to be educated on the subsidy issues. a man is not remarkable for wisdom just because he can open his mouth and let out hot smelly air!

  4. Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s handling of the January 2012 subsidy removal process revealed to us once again that she is an extremely ruthless lady who is not only extremely dishonest but with a palpably cruel streak. The situation in Nigeria now is that fuel is now even more important than food. Her competence as an economist and her personal integrity have certainly been called into question by her strenous efforts to participate in a disgraceful cover-up of an authoritative forensic report by the highly prestigious Auditing Company KPMG on the extremely disgraceful malfeasances going on in the NNPC. A thorough curbing of these malfeasances would have minimized the extant wastage such that it might not have been necessary to impose that extremely nasty subsidy removal: she actually misled President Jonathan and this led to a stand off that has had negative multiplier effects on the already prostrate Nigerian economy. We are certainly praying that she gets the WB top slot, so that she will be out of our hair for good.

  5. I think the obvious smear campaign that has been waged on Ngozi on this blog shows clearly why our world will never change for the better. Too many anti-reform people have adapted the tactic of throwing enough mud to tarnish reformers until they get their own way. They already made their mind up, and damn the facts. Instead of arguing for what should happen or who should get the job, we have people whose logic goes something like this, make the best candidate look so bad , that everyone will have to choose my candidate instead, even if he is not qualified for the job !!! Well I hope the US and Europe get their way, so the developing countries wake up and start their own bank. Let the old colonial dogs enjoy whats left of their crumbs. If Dr. Kim has any self respect, or respect for the poor of the world, he should withdraw his name from the process.

  6. Those who call for Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s head on the fuel subsidy are only looking for a fall guy. How can anyone argue that fuel is now more important than food in Nigeria? The urban elite wants subsidised fuel at the expense of the majority in the rural folks. Let us get real. It doesn’t make economic sense to continue to subsidise CONSUMPTION.

  7. The rich who are the beneficiaries of the subsidy in Nigeria will never say any good about this woman.the truth of the matter is that she fears no one.she’s the lady of the century

  8. There is no guarantee that with Okonjo-Iweala as figurehead, reform and fairness in the Bank’s policies would be substantive.
    This is another one of those put downs. Would the author GURANTEE that any of the other candidates would bring reform and fairness? How much reform and fairness have we seen in the past from World Bank Presidents? Ask any developing country that has borrowed money from the World Bank about fairness and you would be surprised. Ms. Okonjo-Iweala is more likely to understand fairness from another perspective than a person appointed to the job to project American soft power.
    Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba

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