THE United States should take the lead and break the long tradition of an American always heading the World Bank, Nigerian Finance Minister and a nominee for the top post Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has said.
Speaking after a “marathon” three-and-a-half-hour interview by the World Bank board, Okonjo-Iweala said the decision on who leads the global development institution should go to the candidate with the best skills for the job.
Reuters reports that during her interview with the board, Okonjo-Iweala said she did not ask for the support of countries but pressed them to ensure that the selection process was open and merit based.
Under an informal agreement between the U.S and Europe, an American has always headed the World Bank and a European has led the International Monetary Fund since their founding after World War Two.
Rising economic powers such as China, India and Brazil have called for an end to the long-standing tradition and are demanding more influence in global finance institutions.
Okonjo-Iweala, who left a top post at the World Bank last year for a second stint as Nigeria’s Finance Minister, is up against former Colombian Finance Minister Jose Antonio Ocampo and U.S. nominee Korean-American health expert Jim Yong Kim.
Ocampo and Kim were set to be interviewed by the 25-member World Bank board yesterday and Wednesday respectively. It is the first time that candidates from developing countries have challenged Washington for the top post.