Renown U.S. Poet Endorses Nigerian For World Bank President

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Dr. Maya Angelou (NAN File photo/Hayden Roger Celestin)

News Americas, WASHINGTON, D.C., Weds. April 11, 2012: Renown U.S-born poet, educator and historian, Dr. Maya Angelou, has joined the growing chorus of people from around the world supporting Nigerian finance minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for the presidency of the World Bank.

Angelou, who is also a best-selling author, actress, playwright, civil-rights activist, producer and director noted: “It is absolutely fantastic that a woman with purpose and a woman who is qualified can rightfully take her position in the world.”

Angelou’s endorsement comes as sources tell NAN that the Caribbean region is not happy with a declaration by Canada’s representative on the Bank’s Board, Marie-Lucie, an executive director, that it will support the US’ choice.

At the Board level, Canada is responsible for its own interests and those of Ireland and 11 other Commonwealth countries that have grouped together into one constituency. The Canadian Executive Director is elected to the Board by the governments of Canada, Ireland, and the Caribbean-region countries of Antigua & Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent & the Grenadines.

The Canadian Executive Director is supported in her functions by an Alternate Executive Director from one of the Caribbean members of the constituency, currently, Barbados.

Sources say the Caribbean leadership is miffed that Canada has wholly thrown its support behind the United States’ nomination of Jim Yong Kim to be the next president of the World Bank without consultation, especially since Dr. Okonjo-Iweala and former Colombian Finance Minister, Jose Antonio Ocampo, are vying for the top job at the world lender.

Dr. Okonjo-Iweala is currently the Minister of Finance for the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Prior to this appointment, she was the Managing Director of the World Bank, a position which includes special oversight for the Bank’s operations in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, South Asia and Africa. Dr. Okonjo-Iweala was at the forefront of the Bank’s efforts to help countries hard hit by the food, fuel and financial crisis.

From 2003 to 2006, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala served as Finance Minister of Nigeria and later Foreign Affairs Minister. As Minister of Finance, she spearheaded negotiations with the Paris Club of Creditors in 2005 that led to the wiping out of US$30 billion of Nigeria’s external debt, including outright cancellation of US$18 billion. After leaving the government, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala joined Brookings Institution as a Distinguished Visiting Fellow from 2006 to 2007.
Dr. Okonjo-Iweala has received numerous awards, including Time Magazine’s European Hero of the Year Award in 2004 and Euromoney Magazine Global Finance Minister of the year in 2005. In 2006, she was named by Forbes Magazine as one of 100 most powerful women in the world. Dr. Okonjo-Iweala was educated at Harvard University and has a PhD in Regional Economics and Development from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

A U.S. citizen has headed the World Bank since it was created after World War Two and rising developing nations seemingly want a change in the status quo.

A decision on a new leader for the Bank is expected to be announced by the time its sister organization, the International Monetary Fund, hold semi-annual meetings in Washington on April 20-22.

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