Nigerian finance minister denies seeking to lead World Bank

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Nigerian finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Nigerian finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is not pursuing the World Bank’s top job, her spokesman said Wednesday, amid reports that her name was being put forth as a candidate.

“The minister has not put herself forward for the position. She is not seeking it,” Paul Nwabuikwu 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.”

Colombian ex-finance minister Jose Antonio Ocampo said Wednesday that he and Okonjo-Iweala are candidates to lead the World Bank.

The United States, the biggest shareholder in the World Bank and its sister institution the International Monetary Fund, has not yet announced its candidate to lead the 187-nation development lender.

Under a tacit agreement since the Bretton Woods institutions were founded nearly 70 years ago, the United States has always put an American at the helm of the World Bank and Europe has picked a European to lead the IMF.

The arrangement has provoked protests in recent year from emerging and developing economies, which are seeking greater representation at the two bodies.

Okonjo-Iweala is a respected former World Bank managing director who joined Nigeria’s government as finance minister in August.

She has since pushed for various reforms in Africa’s most populous nation and largest oil producer, which has long been held back by deeply rooted corruption.