My pick for the profile of the week was easy but at the same time problematic.
THE FACE OF SUCCESS NIGERIAN DR NGOZI IWEALA
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was already listed to be profiled when the news of her entering the final round for the designation of the Head of the World Trade Organisation was released last Thursday, October 8. This final round will pitch Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala against South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee. So, here is the thing. Will profiling her be considered pre-mature?
While researching her profile much earlier before all the WTO “wahala” for this blog, I had found this:
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has been listed as one of Transparency International’s 8 Female Anti-Corruption Fighters Who Inspire (2019), one of the 50 Greatest World Leaders (Fortune, 2015), the Top 100 Most Influential People in the World (TIME, 2014), the Top 100 Global Thinkers (Foreign Policy, 2011 and 2012), the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in the World (Forbes, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014), the Top 3 Most Powerful Women in Africa (Forbes, 2012), the Top 10 Most Influential Women in Africa (Forbes, 2011), the Top 100 Women in the World (The UK Guardian, 2011), the Top 150 Women in the World (Newsweek, 2011), and the Top 100 most inspiring people in the World Delivering for Girls and Women (Women Deliver, 2011). This is what I am talking about! The face of Success.
Marylynn Monroe once said women who try to seek equality with men are women without ambition. There are no glass ceilings in Ngozi’s world; just because they have all been shattered. It will be resounding news to celebrate if she becomes the WTO head. This last stage however is more about politics and lobbying, coalitions and horse trading, and if extraordinarily she is not designated it will not take away even one iota from the success she already is.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is former Minister of Finance for the Federal Republic of Nigeria, appointed in July 2011. She previously served as a Managing Director of the World Bank where she had oversight responsibility for the World Bank’s operational portfolio in Africa, South Asia and Europe and Central Asia. Okonjo-Iweala spearheaded several World Bank initiatives to assist low-income countries during both the food and later financial crisis. She is chaired the replenishment of over $40 billion for the International Development Association (IDA), the grant and soft credit arm of the World Bank.
From September 2006 to November 2007, she was Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Brookings Institution. From June to August 2006, she was Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nigeria, overseeing Nigeria’s External Relations; and from July 2003 to June 2006 she served a prior term as Minister of Finance and Economy of Nigeria and head of Nigeria’s much acclaimed Presidential Economic team responsible for implementing a comprehensive home-grown economic reform program that stabilized the macro-economy and tripled the growth rate to an average 6% per annum over three years.
Her achievements as Finance Minister garnered international recognition for improving Nigeria’s financial stability and fostering greater fiscal transparency to combat corruption. In October 2005, she led the Nigerian team that negotiated the cancellation of 60% of Nigeria’s external debt ($18 billion) with the Paris Club. The debt deal also included an innovative buy-back mechanism that wiped out Nigeria’s Paris Club debt and reduced the country’s external indebtedness from $35 billion to $5 billion. Dr. Okonjo-Iweala oversaw Nigeria’s first Sovereign credit rating of BB—from Fitch and Standard and Poor’s—a rating that grouped Nigeria with other emerging market countries such as Vietnam, Venezuela and the Philippines.
Previously, she pursued a 21-year career as a development economist at the World Bank, where she held the post of Vice President and Corporate Secretary. This included two tours of duty (1997-2000) working in the East Asia Region during the East Asian financial crisis; two duty tours in the Middle East Region, the last (2000-2003) as Director, Operations (deputy vice-president) of the region. Dr Okonjo-Iweala also served as Director of Institutional Change and Strategy (1995-1997). From 1989 to 1991, she was Special Assistant to the Senior Vice President, Operations.
Dr. Okonjo-Iweala was educated at Harvard and has a Ph.D. in Regional Economics and Development from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including Honorary Doctorates from Trinity College, Dublin, Brown University and Amherst College, among others. She is the recipient of Time magazine’s European Hero of the Year Award, 2004, for her work on economic reform in Nigeria, Euromoney magazine Global Finance Minister of the year, 2005, Financial Times/The Banker African Finance Minister of the year 2005, This Day (one of Nigeria’s premier newspapers) Minister of the Year award 2004 and 2005
Portfolio, the Conde Nast International Business Intelligence magazine, called her one of 73 “Brilliant” business influencers in the world of business and public service.
Dr. Okonjo-Iweala is a member or chair of numerous boards and advisory groups: ONE Campaign, the World Resources Institute, the Clinton Global Initiative, the Nelson Mandela Institution, Friends of the Global Fund Africa, and the African Institutes of Science and Technology as well as the Centre for Global Development (CGD).
Hailing from a country. Nigerian, which can be sometimes drowned in partisan politics she has been able through the years to draw respect from both sides of the aisle. It is no wonder she benefits from the unequivocal support of the current President, Buhari who ousted the government Goodluck Jonathan she was part off.
She is aware of the disaster corruption brings to Africa and does capture it well in her book “Fighting Corruption is dangerous”. It is said when you fight corruption it fights back. She acknowledges the dangerous nature of it, but she insists on the fact that capitulation against corruption is not an option. Her mother at one point was even kidnapped!
Ngozi my pick, is the ultimate face of success and inspiration to many globally. One is almost tempted to think her perfection is definitely from divine intervention through her parents who gave her the name Ngozi which means “blessings” in the Igbo language the short form of Ngozichukwu, meaning God’s Blessings.