by Lekan Olanrewaju
Treading a similar “campaign path” to that of President Goodluck Jonathan, Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, in her World Bank presidency bid, shared her own “I had no shoes” moment.
Speaking at an event hosted by Washington Post Live together with the Centre for Global Development on Monday, Okonjo-Iweala shared her own personal experiences. “I know what it means to go to the stream to fetch water, what it means when people are poor and don’t have enough to eat,” she said. “It’s not good enough to say you know about poverty. You have to live it.”
39 former World Bank officials had last week expressed support for her, in a letter to bank members, stating that she possessed “deep experience in international and national issues of economic management.”
Okonjo-Iweala also spoke on the issue of job creation, which has been one of the main focuses of her campaign thus far.
“Wherever you look, the issue is about jobs,” She said. “I have yet to meet a single poor person who did not want the dignity of the job.”
If selected, Okonjo-Iweala would be the first female to head the organisation, as well as the first non-American. She however stated that was of little consequence, saying: “It’s not really about a Nigerian or an American. The issue is who brings the best skills to bear.”
She added that there are several things that frustrate her about the bank. “You have to have the courage to say: look, certain things that we’ve always made this way, they have to go. We need a Rolodex of experts who we can call on very quickly,” she said, speaking on her vision for the bank to move more swiftly. She recalled a request she made as finance minister, for which the World Bank told her she would have to wait 3 weeks while the IMF responded immediately. “We need to be fast in delivering knowledge. Low-income countries are no longer willing to wait.”
She also spoke on the nationwide protests that were sparked off by the removal of fuel subsidy earlier this year.
“After the protests, we spent four hours together talking, Occupy Nigeria and I,” she said, giving an example of the use of her diplomatic skills. “And by the time we were leaving they were asking if we could take pictures together.”
Anyone know the identity of the picture-taking protesters?