Nigeria: Was Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala's Candidacy Symbolic?

Nigerian Finance Minister and former World Bank Managing Director, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala (NOI) was the only African and woman who wanted to succeed the current World Bank President, Robert Zoellick, who is stepping down at the end of his term on 30 June, 2012. She lost to Dr. Jim Yong Kim, a Korean-American physician who was elected on 16 April.

Netizens have received the news of Dr. Jim's selection with mixed views. Some bloggers and tweeps are of the view that this was the best time to change the tradition of producing American World Bank presidents since its foundation.

Despite Ngozi's loss, CP-Africa, an African business, technology and culture blog, highlights Ngozi's observation that her candidacy set a strong precedence for future emerging markets candidates:

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s Finance Minister. Image released in the public domain by

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s Finance Minister. Image released in the public domain by

….she stated an important point highlighting that her candidacy sets a good precedence for future candidates from emerging markets.

Olise disagrees with Ngozi's observation:

Alot of pple [people] might not want to hear this, but its a fact that no one can change. Coming from a country wth so much natural endowments and yet in abject poverty, I think it absolutely illogical for any one to want to give any support to our dear finance minister who apparently has not bn able to tackle the pitiable economic situation of her own country but yet is gunning to become the president of the world bank.
She should quite the folley by trying to ride on the wings of her experience as charity they say begins @home. If she can‘t tackle our own issues back home then she should resign.
As far as I‘m concerned, that woman is too high up there to understand let alone relate wth our perculiar Nigerian situation.

Another reader identifies five lessons for Ngozi to learn from her loss:

This is the golden moment for Ngozi to appreciate nigeria, emmerging economies and africa in general, for the support she enjoyed prior to the selection of world bank president. There exist lessons to learn for mrs Ngozi; which include: 1. America can use and dump you. 2. Competence is not a criterior in international politics. 3. Africans are third citizens. 4. Nigeria is all that she has and no place like home. 5. What next: quick reversal of her traditional economic policies that are too ideal for a nation that lacks economic foundation. It is time for her to be local champion in her domain. Let her pay nigeria and africa through reversal of her euro – american policies to real economic reforms that will reduce tension and hardships to the average Nigerian. Ngozi, i pray for ur success not because i like you or you did anything good to my country but because you are the most competent among the contenders. Health and economic trends are two different issues and World bank is not WHO!

The video below is from @cpafrica explaining why the World Bank didn’t pick Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the World Bank president:

On Twitter, as one might expect, there is no consensus even among Nigerian tweeps. Some Nigerian tweeps wonder how a mismanaged economy like Nigeria can produce a World Bank president while another one argues that her candidacy was merely symbolic:

@rosanwo: The fact that most Nigerians do not understand the history of the World Bank and how it operates contributed to their thinking NOI [Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala] could win

@Yillande: A competent woman like Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was not choosen when she has all the Qualification to head it…

@Tejiriaren: Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala… What an inspiration, this woman! Unfair what the US did in the selection process…. But then again, its d US!

@nigerianblogger: Allowing African countries to determine who becomes WB President would be like allowing debtors to select the MD of a Bank.~Usman Bala

@rosanwo: Allowing a Nigerian to take charge of the World Bank is like putting North Korea in charge of Human Rights ~ Bolingo Turary. Hian!!!

@BBC_AudreyB: Ngozi Okonjo Iweala says she celebrates the fact that Jim Yong Kim got the World Bank job she wanted. Really Ngozi? So you're not bitter?

@SaneleZondi: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala contesting for World Bank presidency was more a symbolic gesture than ‘real’.

@nnamdiarea: …But if these Nigerian officials are so world class, why is Nigeria such a shitty country?

@rosanwo: Chai, all those our people wey don dey dream of World Bank Ngozi
Ankara, business don spoil

@rosanwo: Chai, all those our people who were dreaming of a World Bank Ngozi textile print, their business has come to nothing [Ankara is a local print which may be customized for a special occasion by printing the logo or facial photograph of the person commemorating a special event]

@Yadomah: BREAKING NEWS: Boko Haram claims responsibility for Ngozi Okonjo Iweala's world bank race kick out….

@ged: Tomorrow morning or later this night, we'll start reading some fictional reasons why Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala lost in the W/Bank Presidency race.

@omonational: @OccupyNaija @rosanwo @ogundamisi It would have been the most shameful thing if she has been elected. NIGERIANS! TOP POST IN D WORLD?

@OccupyNaija: Soon @NOIweala will come home to tell us how she bowed out of WB Presidency Race to focus more on Nigeria her 1st love!!..

@nnamdiarea: Then what we are going around dragging international positions for, when more than half our people can barely feed? What is wrong with us?

@djudje12: WBP: NOI :I know what it is 2 carry water on bare head,vote for me! West:We've seen ur president who went to school on barefeet,no votes pls

On her Facebook page, Ngozi congratulates the new World Bank president and adds:

With regard to the selection process, it is clear to me that we need to make it more open, transparent and merit-based. We need to make sure that we do not contribute to a democratic deficit in global governance.

Nevertheless, by our participation we have won important victories. We have shown what is possible. Our credible and merit-based challenge to a long-standing and unfair tradition will ensure that the process of choosing a World Bank president will never be the same again. The struggle for greater equity and fairness has reached a critical point and the hands of the clock cannot be turned back.


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