Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is a Nigerian economist.
The globally renowned Economist was born June 13, 1954.
She is best known for her work at the World Bank, including several years as one of its Managing Directors (October 2007–July 2011).
Also, she’s had two terms as Finance Minister of Nigeria. She is still serving the second term.
She briefly held the position of Foreign Minister of Nigeria in 2006.
History records show that in 2007, Okonjo-Iweala was considered as a possible replacement for former World Bank President, Paul Wolfowitz.
Subsequently, in 2012, she became one of three candidates in the race to replace World Bank President Robert Zoellick at the end of his term of office in June 2012.
On April 16, 2012 it was announced that she had been unsuccessful in her bid for the World Bank presidency, having lost to the US nominee, Jim Yong Kim.
This outcome had been widely anticipated. However, this was the first contested election for World Bank president after the demise in 2010 of the Gentlemen’s Agreement that the US would appoint the World Bank president and Europe would appoint the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund.
Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala is an Igbo from Ogwashi-Uku, Delta State where her father Professor Chukuka Okonjo is the Obi (King) from the Umu Obi Obahai Royal Family of Ogwashi-Uku.
Okonjo-Iweala was educated at Harvard University, graduating magna cum laudewith an A.B. in 1977, and earned her Ph.D. in regional economic development from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1981.
She is married to Ikemba Iweala from Umuahia, Abia State,and they have 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) and the newly released thoughts on the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa [Our Kind of People](2012).
Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group Prior to her ministerial career in Nigeria, she was vice-president and corporate secretary of the World Bank Group.
She left it in 2003 after she was appointed to President Obasanjo’s cabinet as Finance Minister on 15 July 2003.
In October 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.
Okonjo-Iweala also introduced the practice of publishing each state’s monthly financial allocation from the federal government in the newspapers. This action went a long way in increasing transparency in governance. She was instrumental in helping Nigeria obtain its first ever sovereign credit rating (of BB minus) from Fitch and Standard & Poor’s.
She resigned as Nigeria’s Foreign Minister on August 3, 2006 following her sudden removal as head of Nigeria’s Economic Team by former President Olusegun Obasanjo. She left that administration at the end of August 2006.
Also revealed is that on October 4, 2007, World Bank President Robert Zoellick appointed her to the post of Managing Director, effective December 1, 2007.
In 2011, Okonjo-Iweala was reappointed as Minister of Finance with the expanded portfolio of the Coordinating Minister for the Economy by President Goodluck Jonathan.
During her confirmation as a Minister, she stressed the need to reduce the country’s recurrent expenditure which is presently 74% of the National Budget and embark on capital projects which could improve the 14% unemployment rate in the country.
In her role as the Coordinating Minister For the Economy and Minister of Finance, she has extensive influence/exercise to shape the direction of the Jonathan economic team and the transformation agenda.
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.
Further, in 2011, Okonjo-Iweala was called back to Nigeria by President Goodluck Jonathan to head the economic team as Nigeria’s Finance minister. It was from this position that she contested the presidency of the World Bank.
She received support for her ultimately unsuccessful campaign from a number of former World Bank employees and from publications including The Economist, Financial Times and Newsweek, which said “If competition follows normal process, Kim stands no chance [against Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala].”
Honors and awards are the Silverbird Man of the Year. 2012, 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, Nigerian of the Year 2006.
Others are include, 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, Who’s Who in Anioma, 2011.
On September 28, 2007, Irish musician Bono was awarded the Liberty Medal. Bono donated the $100,000 prize to the Washington-based Debt AIDS Trade Africa, which he co-founded, and Okonjo-Iweala accepted the award on the organization’s behalf.
Her works include, Chinua Achebe: Teacher of Light- a biography of Nigerian author Chinua Achebe, published by Africa World Press, (2003), co-authored with Tijan Sallah; The Debt Trap in Nigeria: Towards a Sustainable Debt Strategy – an academic piece, published by Africa World Press, (2003), co-edited with Charles C. Soludo and Mansur Muhtar; Reforming The Unreformable: Lessons From Nigeria- an account of Ngozi’s work under Obasanjo’s administration between 2003 – 2007, published by MIT Press, (2012)
Okonjo-Iweala has not expressed interest to contest political office in Nigeria.
However, she has been vocal in her denunciation of the manner in which the country is currently accumulating huge debts. Recently, she was pictured at the Nigeria’s ruling party convention in Abuja.
Dr. Okonjo-Iweala further serves on the Advisory Board of Global Financial Integrity and on the Board of Directors of the World Resources Institute and she is also a fellow at the Brookings Institution.
Okonjo-Iweala’s Photo by Wikipedia