Nigeria’s Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who lost the contest for the World Bank presidency to US candidate Jim Yong Kim on Monday, has congratulated the winner and promised to work with him.
Speaking to journalists in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, after the election, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala pledged her support for Dr. Jim as well as the staff and stakeholders of the World Bank Group for the benefit of poor people around the world.
”Their plight is at the heart of the mandate of the institution and we must never lose sight of that,” she said.
But she criticized the process for selection the presidency of the 187-member organization, saying “we need to make it more open, transparent and merit-based to make sure we do not contribute to a democratic deficit in global governance.”
Mrs Okonjo-Iweala however claimed victory for posting the first ever challenge to the US in the contest for the bank’s presidency, which has been the exclusive preserve of the country since the bank was established.
“It (the process) will never ever be the same again. So, we have won a big victory. Who gets to run the World Bank – we have shown we can contest this thing and Africa can produce people capable of running the entire architecture,” she said.
A few hours before the election, the 57-year-old Nigerian minister, who was nominated by Nigeria, Angola and South Africa and put forward as the ‘African candidate’, virtually conceded defeat when she said the appointment would not be decided on merit.
“You know this thing is not really being decided on merit. It is voting with political weight and shares and therefore the United States will get it,” she told journalists in Abuja.
In a related development, Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan has congratulated Dr. kim on his election as the new President of the World Bank.
President Jonathan also thanked the leaders, governments, peoples and friends of developing countries, as well as the media and other civil society groups, for the support and encouragement given to Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala.