by Lekan Olanrewaju
The coordinating Minister of the economy, and finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has being named amongst the candidates to be nominated for World Bank presidency.
She was nominated alongside former Colombian finance minister, Jose Ocampo.
Okonjo-Iweala and Ocampo, are said to pose a threat to the US as they possess credentials as both economists and diplomats and according to sources have the respective backing of Brazil and South Africa.
Okonjo-Iweala left the World Bank as managing director last year to become Nigeria’s finance minister, and Ocampo is a former U.N. under-secretary for economic and social affairs
The USA is however expected to leverage on its majority and goodwill from European countries.
Nominations for the post, currently occupied by America’s Robert Zoellck, will close on Friday, with the US expected to name a candidate by then.
Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has been tipped as a leading contender for the post.
According to analysts, this is the first time America is having a strong contender, as the 187 member nations have shown resolve for merit in selecting the next president of the World Bank.
The decision to nominate Okonjo-Iweala and Ocampo followed weeks of discussions among emerging and developing countries at the World Bank board including China and India.
South Africa’s director at the World Bank board, Renosi Mokate, who also represents Nigeria and other English-speaking African countries, reportedly flew to Abuja to consult with Okonjo-Iweala about her nomination.
Former World Bank board official Domenico Lombardi spoke on the nominations saying “The impressive credentials of both Ocampo and Okonjo-Iweala puts tremendous pressure on the White House to come up with a candidate of at least equivalent standing.”
Lombardi, who now works at the Brookings Institution in Washington also said “This signals a big shift and really reflects a game change. This is the first time in history we have a truly contested election.”
However, her senior special assistant on media, Paul Nwabuikwu, has however added a note of caution. “The minister has not put herself forward for the position. She is not seeking it,” he told AFP, though he could not say whether others have nominated her on behalf of developing nations.
He said it was “premature” to say whether she would at some point decide to pursue the job, though he added that “there seems to be some serious enthusiasm for the idea … At this point she has not indicated any interest.”
If elected either Okonjo-Iweala or Ocampo would not only be the first female president, but the first from a country apart from the United States as The World Bank and the IMF presidency has been held by the country since the inception of the institution after World War II.