Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is a woman of substance, a Nigerian model of excellence and African pride. She is an individual that has proven that the best can come from Africa in term of qualification, competence and experience for any top job in the global arena. The Nigeria’s Finance Minister is currently considered as one of the three candidates to replace World Bank President Robert Zoellick when he steps down in June 2012.
Ngozi is not only shortlisted but has overwhelming supports and endorsements from the regional powers and institutions of excellence of her candidature for the post of President of the World Bank. Those pushing her nomination for the post include South Africa,
The Influential newspaper, Financial Times of London, has tipped Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala, as the best candidate for the World Bank Presidency. In in an editorial by the paper, it said if the bank’s shareholders wanted the best president, they would opt for Okonjo-Iweala because she has real-world experience of policy-making in one of the most challenging developing countries.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala who was born on June 13, 1954 in Ogwashi Uku, Delta State, was educated at Harvard University, graduating magna cum laude with an A.B. in 1977, and earned Ph.D. in regional economic development from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1981.
Her working career included: Special Assistant to the Senior Vice-President, Operations, World Bank, 1989-91; Director of Institutional Change and Strategy, World Bank, 1995-97; Country Director, Malaysia, Mongolia, Laos and Cambodia, World Bank, 1997-2000; Deputy Vice-President, Middle East Region, World Bank, 2000-03; Minister of Finance and Economy, 2003-06; Minister of Foreign Affairs, June-August 2006 and Managing Director, World Bank, 2007 before she returned to Nigeria in June 2011 to be re-appointed Finance Minister with added portfolio for Economic Development. She was the first woman to be appointed Minister of Finance and that of Foreign Affairs in Nigeria.
She spent over 20 years in World Bank as a development economist. She became intimately familiar with the economies of East Asia and Africa.
As she recently took a lot of heat, for the unpopular fuel subsidy removal policy which led to massive protest by Nigerians, her recommendation in the past had witnessed positive development in the country. In 2005, she led the Nigerian team that struck a deal with the Paris Club, a group of bilateral creditors, to pay a portion of Nigeria’s external debt US $12 billion in return for an $18 billion debt write-off. Prior to the partial debt payment and write-off, Nigeria spent roughly US $1 billion every year on debt servicing, without making a dent in the principal owed. The Economic Confidential also gathered that Okonjo-Iweala introduced the practice of publishing monthly revenue allocation to states in selected few newspapers, she was later stopped. She was instrumental in helping Nigeria obtain its first ever sovereign credit rating (of BB minus) from Fitch and Standard & Poor’s.
In 2007, Okonjo-Iweala’s NGO, NOI Global Consulting, partnered with the Gallup Organization to introduce an opinion poll, the NOI poll, into the Nigerian polity. She is a fellow at the Brookings Institution and also serves on the Advisory Board of Global Financial Integrity and on the Board of Directors of the World Resources Institute.
She has received several distinction and awards which include: Time Europe Hero 2004, This Day Nigeria Minister of the Year 2004; Euromoney Magazine Global Finance Minister of the year 2005; Financial Times/The Banker African Finance Minister 2005; Honorary Doctorate from Brown University, Providence, RI, USA; Honorary Doctorate from Trinity College, University of Dublin, Ireland; Honorary Doctorate from Colby College, Maine, USA; Honorary Doctorate from Northern Caribbean University, Mandeville, Jamaica; Honorary Doctorate from Amherst College, Amherst, MA, USA and Who’s Who in Anioma, 2011 and most recent is Personality of the Month of the Economic Confidential magazine.
A daughter of traditional ruler in Igboland of Ohwasi-Uku, Ngozi is married to Ikemba Iweala from Umuahia, Abia State and blessed with four children. The eldest, Onyinye Iweala received her Ph.D. in Experimental Pathology from Harvard University in 2008 and graduated Harvard Medical School in 2010. Her son, Uzodinma Iweala, is the author of the critically acclaimed novel Beasts of No Nation (2005).