McKenna of the Globe and Mail has a tantalizing and wonderful suggestion
The British media is already floating Tony Blair as a possible
successor. The British Prime Minister, who is due to meet Mr. Bush at the
White House today, announced last week that he’s stepping down after a decade
Some World Bank critics want a more radical leadership change, proposing candidates
such as South African Finance Minister Trevor Manuel and
Nigeria’s former finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
In September 2005, I gave Okonjo-Iweala Euromoney’s Finance Minister of the
Year award as the best finance minister in the world. It was an award for which
she was more than qualified, and her departure from Nigerian government was
a major setback for that country.
Okonjo-Iweala knows the World Bank inside out and backwards, having spent most
of her career there; she’s hard-headed yet also very good at building consensus.
She’s incredibly smart, very hard-working, and has first-hand knowledge of the
problems of running a developing nation’s finances. Most importantly, as an
African, albeit one who’s spent most of her life in the US, her appointment
would be a concrete sign that the Bank exists for the benefit of the world’s
poorest nations, and is not seen by the White House as being an instrument of
US foreign policy.
I doubt any of the American names mentioned as possible replacements to Wolfowitz
can match someone like Ngozi’s experience and record on the key issues of
aid to Africa, Anti-Corruption, and the credibility needed to raise the IDA
Her experience, both as a secretary to the board of executive directors and
as a long time bank career member that rose through the ranks to the level
of VP, also put her way ahead on both the question of building trust with
the staff of the bank and also rebuilding the relationship with the board
The only questions about her chances have to do with whether the President
of the US , who has the power to do this, is smart enough to name the first
woman, the first African, and the first non-American as the head of the World
Ngozi would be better suited for the job than any American, Bill Clinton
included. She’s certainly better qualified than Hank Paulson,
who seems to be cropping
up as another possible World Bank president. He knows how to run a big organization,
and he has solid environmental credentials, but his development experience is
slim, and in any case it’s long since time that someone other than an American
gets the gig.
I doubt that Bush has the vision to nominate Ngozi. But it would be a wonderful
day if he did.