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.