Nigeria’s World Bank President

“Don’t ask what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country”

J.F Kennedy

This is one of the frequently used quotes in the Nigerian advocacy for paradigm shift, it questions our desire to put our country first as patriots. As we all know, Nigeria has not been too efficient at providing basic welfare for its citizens, yet we live with the idea of giving back to a state that continues to rape its citizens. No thanks, to the ruling elites supported by a few political bourgeois, who work hand in hand with born again pro-democracy ex-military officers.

Shortly after President Jonathan was sworn in May 29, 2011, the buzz about how he was ever going to deliver his transformation agenda became the order of the day. For a president with low self-esteem, no exposure to leadership but became the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by the virtue of controlling the state resources and security apparatus before the elections, it was a herculean task. He had a choice, to swim with the political sharks and make it business as usual or seek for some sort of legitimacy for his presidency by reaching out for a technocrat who could drive the macroeconomic policies without looting the treasury.

The President sought after Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the former Minister of Finance under former President Obasanjo, he was convinced that her credentials which included the World Bank Managing Director, would lend the much-needed credence to his government and derive the trust he needed badly from Nigerians. If the elections were won by luck and some elements of ethnic and religious sentiments, the economy would not be run on that. Some quarters within the ruling party were quick to remind the president of the perceived domineering attitude of this former Minister of Finance, that the presidency may be subdued by her personality and ego. They tried to convince the president not to bring Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala back, the Nigerians newspapers went to town with different versions of what was going on within the presidency. I suppose some quarters felt her presence meant a stop to their feeding off the system and acquiring humongous wealth.

I was not sure of what to make of the return of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. I have never recovered from her October 2005 advertised success of leading the Nigerian team that struck a deal with the Paris Club and a group of bilateral creditors to pay off Nigeria’s external debt of US $ 12 billion in return for a US $ 18 billion debt write off. Her excuse? Nigeria was servicing external debt with US $ 1 billion a year, it was not making sense and she wanted to redeem that. I still question her judgment for repaying a debt of US $12 Billion in 2005, which developing country on planet earth does that? Assuming we built a power station with that US $12 billion, we would turn our economy around and probably run a surplus budget in 10 years to repay those debts. Her first stint as a Minister of Finance was also not without some controversy, she and Olu Adeniji were being paid US $ 240, 000 as salary from a donor supported Diaspora Fund negotiated by the government. In 2007, the Court of Appeal rule that the payment was not in tandem with our laws, and ruled that Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Olu Adeniji pay back the excess to the account of the state. The Federal Government of Nigeria, Olu Adeniji and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala have appealed to the Supreme Court and judgment is pending, that is if we ever get a judgement. After paying off the debt, as the head of Nigeria’s Economic Team, she boasted about the number of jobs and growth to derive from paying the debts with a fortune spent promoting the NEEDS agenda. We never had assessment of the outcomes but surely if it worked, we would be better off today.

I believe President Jonathan swallowed his pride, which is if he had one apart from being the president and a member of the ruling party. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was ushered back as Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, more or less the de facto Prime Minister. My friends ask if she’s being paid in US Dollars this time around or the equivalent in Naira, I don’t know how much she’s paid. The country’s finance and economic direction was in a dire strait and she was portrayed as the messiah to put things in order. She comes across as a capitalist economist with the drive to stop the economy from bleeding by promising to reduce the high recurrent expenditure of the budget and the double-digit unemployment rate. What she did not tell us was that the country was back to the same situation she met it shortly before she paid off the Paris Debt, the country’s debt was on the rise, corruption was at unprecedented level with uncompleted projects. What she did not tell us was that, Nigeria could not continue in this same projection over the next 10years without hitting the bottom.

The Federal Government led by the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance set out to remove the fuel subsidy, yet she could not cut down on the crazy cost of running the government instead she came up with SURE and then SURE – P which was dead on arrival. I recall one of her interviews where she said, it would take about  5 years to carry out her economic policies. What she did not tell us was the intent of this government to go a lending from the likes of China and co to fund the 2012 budget. What she did not tell us was how much this government was committed to her economic policies. What she did not tell us was the writing on the wall as a result of the #OccupyNigeria protests.

Overnight we heard rumours of her intent to vie for the post of the President of the World Bank, subsequently she confirmed our fears to jump the ship less than a year after her arrival as the economic messiah. All of a sudden, she’s returning the President’s favour by absconding to the safety of the World Bank where the likes of #occupyNigeria protest will never get to her. I wonder what she told President Jonathan, that her role as World Bank President will be beneficial to the transformation agenda of Nigeria. What she has not told us is how the World Bank Policy has not enhanced our development policies, after all she has been in the World Bank for years, how has this benefitted our macroeconomics. Or has the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance seen the hand writing on the wall and she’s looking for the nearest possible exit?

Without going into the history of how the World Bank alliance is built on the US/Europe relationship and why I think the US will get away with the nomination of the health policy expert Jim Yong Kim, I am surprised that Ngozi Okonjo Iweala will jump ship when the heat is turned on. What happened to her dreams of transforming Nigeria? Does she not know that if she eventually turns around the Nigerian economy, Nigerians would agitate for her to become the Nigerian President in the future which is more prestigious than her present pursuit? Deep down the President’s mind, he must be unhappy with the Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s nomination for World Bank but can’t come out to express this. He must have been caught unaware with the support the minister got within a short time (which cannot be divorced from her career network), that he decided to play along so he’s not seen as the anti-Christ. A serious-minded President would fire Ngozi Okonjo Iweala if she does not make it to become the World Bank President, she’s proven that the job Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance is not her priority especially when the whole economic plan is built around her. But what do I know? The presidency thrives and survives on distractions such as this, if Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala leaves, there would be every reason for a delayed or failed economic policy. The government may even list the Nigeria World Bank President as one of their achievements. Apart from history in the making, a female Word Bank President from a developing country, Nigeria has nothing to gain. The hype will not reduce our debt or the double-digit unemployment rate, it will only distract us as it is doing now. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala can never be indispensable in a nation of 150 million plus but Nigeria especially President Jonathan needs her putting into consideration the circumstance under which she was appointed, the whom too much is given, too much is expected.

“Don’t ask what Ngozi Okonjo Iweala can do for Nigeria but what Nigeria can do to boost her nomination for the World Bank President”

Ngozi Okonjo Iweala’s credentials are not subject to any debate, I believe she’s qualified for the World Bank President as well as helping to build our economy in her present capacity. Her nomination for the World Bank president can never be complete without the mention of her time as the Finance Minister with her career at the World Bank in the background. Yet she comes on air to say this is a personal ambition and not that of the government, sure it cannot be, and poor President Jonathan has been left dry and hung out to his transformation agenda which he has no clue about.


18 thoughts on “Nigeria’s World Bank President

  1. Mr Writer, what do u want? What did u set out to achieve in dis write up? I’m convinced u are very confused and I think u are just envious of Ngozi Okonjo one sentence, u do not like ngozi being d minister, in another sentence, u don’t want her to be world bank president. So what do u want? If u don’t want her as a minister, then allow her to go to world bank. Why can’t we Nigerians wish ourselves good. I beg allow her to be

    • …you must be a dimwit to spew those lines,however,your questions are asinine…NOI after all the hype couldn’t bail Nigeria’s economy out of this present decay,all she could do was to introduce subsidy removal to our dumb GEJ which of course helped her get the world bank president nomination and you come here and oink like a pig simply because you’re blinded with ethnicity and religious stereotype…

  2. Ngozi isnt dis written in English can’t u read even if u dnt understand ask for explanation intead to spewin rubbish from ur obviously empty brain

  3. Would really be a good moral boost for Nigeria in the international community if @NOIweala becomes the next world bank president, at least our “battered” image will be “redeemed”.
    What I am not sure of is: “Will it boost our economy, reduce unemployment and put food on our tables”?

  4. Ngozi, u may not really know what Mr. Rosanwo wrote up there because you are a member of low esteem people he was referring to. I know the importance of that write-up and I give kudos to him.

  5. Honestly I sometimes really get confused about this state called Nigeria. One minute it appears the messiah has landed and then it turns out to be a .hopeless hope. Look like the endless circle of Pinky and the brain trying to take over the world.

  6. Ofcourse we won’t need image polishing if Nigerians can comfortably afford three-square meal(and I don’t mean garri and groundnut or puff puff and pure water). We won’t need project good people great nation if PHCN recovers from it “abiku” status and enterpreneurs can transact business without spending unrealised profit on fuel. Oh yes I won’t be bothered about Aunty Ngozi and her ambitions if all official thief thief are made to dance naked at the village sguare instead of been celebrated as heroes leaving the younger ones with an ambition to do greater and mighty deeds in corruption. But ofcourse I doubt my well learned leaders are thinking in this light dat is why the budget for Security will always surpass that of education.

  7. Another hopeless ethnic rivalist, what bad performance record does Okonjo Iweala have in Nigeria , is economic recovery a short term endeavour ? And who said Mrs Iweala ever bid for the WB presidency or she was nominated initially by South Africa, another waste of Internet bandwidth

  8. Mr Mike Ijere go and collect ur brain from d person u lent it to, and come bak and read if u av any questions then I’m sure he ll be willin to answer them for u Ode

  9. Wat bad records does she av in Nig? well her decision to pay off 12 billion US dollars to d paris club is very questionable, she was d face of subsidy removal even tho she allowed a bugdet of food for 1 billion and oda ridiculous things pass b4 her, she is clearly detached from d Nig reality and can’t be bothered about d common man. Is Economic recovery a short tym one maybe nt but she hasn’t even spent one year and she’s bidding for WB president. And no Sir S.A jst only declared dia support for her and we all knw its political. So b4 u re quick to make a stupid comment next tym mayb u shld read, understand and even ask questions who knws somone might be gracious enough to enlighten you

  10. LOL!!! The comments on these kind of blogs are always interesting…but why do we feel the need to insult those who don’t share our opinions?? Its What do I know? Hmmm… Well, my two cents…I didn’t really get exactly what u were trying 2pass across, apart 4rm d fact that GEJ has been left 2hang dry by NOI. From what I know though, she said she isn’t leaving her job as a Nigerian minister and that Nigeria is priority to her… and indeed, the South Africans nominated her (if she went underground to solicit for that, I wouldn’t know)…my thinkiing, NOI is capable…so,let her do her job. NOI isn’t capable, let her carry her wahala back 2 World Bank. We have to choose one…and stick with the consequences.

  11. So Mr President didnt come out to condemn ‘in strong terms’ Aunty Ngozi’s ambition, he hasnt realized its as much of a bomblast that the only ‘credible’ technocrat in his government is leaving after less than a year?

  12. Sometimes it amazes me at the level of stereotypical and biased bullshit I read on comments on blogs before the man in question thought of writing this article do you think he just woke up and started writng?

    Ngozi Okonjo Iweala has never shown us any patriotic calling to her its just another job we can also look at her record in World Bank I’m sure discrepancies will be there but to call a spade a spade yes she’s vying for a position I see no problem if you want to run to greener pastures personally I want her to leave the country before she destroys more of our economy I guess that’s why her and Obasanjo later fell out she had grown wings and decided to fly I’m now seeing reason why our senatorial dodgers where screaming hell not to get her elected! As da defacto Prime minister of Nigeria I expected her to think and act as an economist and a finance analyst instead she acts like Mother hen and Goose. Till today No Economic idealogy or blue print has been laid out no finance backbone and also scrutiny of the naira to woo investors how can you vye for a position when you have nt satisfied your people lets be logical 4 once and not emotional. Will you vote for Abacha if he where to be alive as president again? Please lets just see things for which they are she has nt done anything commendable to let her go to World Bank GEJ should have restrained her but like I said. Its Political as 4 da US connection lets see how things go.

    PS : her clearing of Paris club debt is da only landmark she achieved pls point to others if I am wrong

  13. I see Nigerians as a basket full of Crabs. You need to see the desperation to leave the lot, leading to the mass not achieving any exit. May God help us.

  14. Thank you Rosanwo for being very balanced in this article.

    NOI is a lady i got a lot of respect for,but paying off our national debt is a a decision i felt she shouldn’t have done it.She was selling off the country in my opinion,they are a thousand and one alternatives to which that loan could have been serviced.

    She was very proactive during the days of NEEDs and in my opinion that was one of the best development roadmap we had in those country,not 7 point agenda nor vision 2020 or transformation fresh air that everyone is singing now.

    But her 2nd coming i had yelled about on twitter,now see how she messed her credibility up by supporting the subsidy removal and playing dump when she had the awesome opportunity to challenge the presidency when she knew everything SURE,SURE-P or what ever was a very big SCAM!

    But she kept silent,the protests happened,and i was just hoping she would as Dora did,find her voice along the way and just say NO!

    The biggest deceit for me was when rumours begin to make rounds about her vying for the WB job,she immediately released a press lease that she isn’t vying for the post and that her primary concern is how to improve Nigeria’s Economoy,but now she is attending interviews et al.

  15. again, the easiest thing to do in this world is to critisise. The best ‘footballers’ are among the spectators.

  16. Well written Rosanwo! and very good and interesting feedbacks here. It is not a case of ethnic rivalry. We are simply tired of this bullshitting culture.

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