Why America’s Kim, Not Nigeria’s Okonjo-Iweala Deserved To ‘Eat’ The World Bank Job, And Dlamini-Zuma Should Be The African Union’s Next CEO

The countries that want a place at the World Bank High Table where the pie is being sliced should pay for it…and back in Africa, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, ex-wife of  South Africa president Jacob Zuma deserves to be the next African Union boss.  She survived marriage to the philandering and polygamous Zuma, she should find being AU chairperson a breeze.

Kim: New World boss.

The World Bank presidency was done and dusted yesterday. US President Barack Obama’s appointee, Korean-American Jim Yong Kim, got the job.

He saw off a challenge by the otherwise admirable Nigerian Finance Minister, Ms. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, previously a director at the World Bank. As the BBC reported it, the decision did not come as a surprise, even to Okonjo-Iweala.

“You know this thing is not really being decided on merit,” she said before the announcement, reported the BBC

For more than 50 years, the US has picked the head of the World Bank. It is a tradition that has been criticised as undemocratic, and anachronistic in a globalised egalitarian world.

Yes and No. If the World Bank chieftainship were the preserve of accomplished economists, then Okonjo-Iweala is right – she was more qualified than Kim, who is a public health expert, although he has extensive experience working with poor countries.

However, this was never about Okonjo-Iweala’s qualification. She was let down by the fact that she was born in a “wrong” country, as far the contest for the World Bank job goes.

Okonjo-Iweala: Fought the good fight, but she was never going to win.

The US contributes $1.51 Billion to the World Bank annually, which is 22% of the Bretton Woods institution’s budget, while Nigeria contributes $9.9 Million, which is 0.14%.

I believe that a country’s place in the international community must be earned…and should be likewise forfeited if it becomes unworthy (the [British] Commonwealth and the African Union [AU], expel unworthy members as the latter has just done to Guinea Bissau following the coup there last week).

There are two currencies that should buy a country this place; one is money (the more of it the better), and the other is good behavior and a good internationalist heart. The better if all these elements come in one package. So countries that contribute more to a membership organisation like the World Bank should have a greater say in appointing the leadership and the divvying up its spending than those that don’t.

The countries that want a place at the High Table where the pie is being sliced should pay for it. Nigeria is the world’s eight largest exporter of oil. Cruel and idiotic military rule, and venal and corrupt vote-stealing governments since 2000, though, has blighted this great country. If it were better governed, Nigeria could afford to contribute $1 Billion to the World Bank (after all, that is just 20% of what one of its abominable military dictators, Sani Abacha, allegedly stole and stashed away as change for a rainy in foreign banks).

If that had been the case, Okonjo-Iweala might easily have become World Bank chief yesterday. Letting countries that don’t want to fork out the bill for the international communion enjoy its choicest trappings would be corrupting. If you can be a shambolic and corrupt state, but your national still becomes head of the World Bank, what kind of message would that send? A terrible one. It would create a moral hazard, and undermine the incentive for countries to better themselves in the eyes of the world.

Many Africans, who are interested in matters of power and influence, will know that in the West African region Nigeria plays the bully role that America does in the world.

West Africa has an economic community (ECOWAS), and whenever any country in the region becomes troublesome and heads needs to be knocked, it puts together its armies (ECOMOG) to deal with it. But really, it’s Nigeria that has the deep pockets in ECOWAS, so it pays most of the money to keep it going.

And the ECOWAS or ECOMOG forces are usually Nigerian in all but name. In part, in addition to the money, this is because Nigeria has a larger population than all the other West African countries put together. The total population of ECOWAS is about 290 million. Nigeria alone is 160 million – that is 55%!

When Nigeria says, “jump”, most of ECOWAS can often do no better than ask, “how high”? When Nigeria unleashes its military, West Africa takes to the tall grass.

China's $200m gift to an Africa that is poor to afford it.

Nigeria, especially during the rule of former-General Olusegun Obasanjo, played the same dominant US-style role in the African Union. The AU is really a hopelessly run organisation. Its most important and prestigious organ is the Peace & Security Department. It is the one that pays for peacekeeping and all that stuff. Nearly 90 percent of its budget is paid for by, mostly, western countries. Free German cash is building its new headquarters building.

The AU recently opened a fabulous headquarters building in Addis Ababa. One of the most impressive office blocks anywhere in Africa, it was a gift of about $200 million from the “Chinese people to the people of Africa”. At the Summit held there a few days after the opening, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame expressed the embarrassment of many, when he said the new headquarters was a symbol of what is wrong with Africa. We can’t come together and raise enough money to build even a headquarters for ourselves.

Most African countries are in arrears to the AU by between six to 10 years. The contributions fell behind so badly, that to save the organisation it was decided some years ago that the countries with big bank accounts should shoulder the burden and pay 15 of the AU budget. So Nigeria was billed 15%, South Africa 15%, Egypt 15%, Libya 15%, and Algeria 15%. The remaining 25% was distributed to the other 47 African countries – and they were still dead beats!

What then happened is that the slain Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi would get on his plane, and hop around Africa whenever a summit was approaching, pay the debts of several of the delinquent countries, give some of the leaders envelopes stuffed with over $500,000 then go the Summit and demand that they vote for his every whim. Whenever he lost the vote, he would storm out in a huff or throw tantrums.

So in Africa, Nigeria plays by the deep-pockets-will-go-to-heaven principle, but expected that it would turn out different for the World Bank job. That was naïve.

Dlamini-Zuma: South Africa's contributions to the African Union are more than enough to buy her the top job - but it's never that straight-forward on the continent.

Which only leaves us with the question of who should be the next Chairperson of the African Union. The present incumbent, Gabon’s Mr Jean Ping, is locked in a fight for the position with South Africa’s Ms. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, ex-wife of the country’s president Jacob Zuma.

They tied at the first vote, so Ping is continuing in an interim capacity until the second round ballot. Gabon contributes peanuts to the AU, so it is nonsensical to me that he should still be in the race against Dlamini-Zuma, when its South Africa that is paying his salary. This is where we get it wrong in Africa. Tin pot dictatorships that don’t honour even their most modest obligations, get the same voice as the countries that do. It is one of the many reasons the AU is always broke.

The job should go to Dlamini-Zuma. She survived marriage to the philandering and polygamous Zuma, she should find being AU chairperson a breeze.

©cobbo@ke.nationmedia.com & twitter@cobbo3

11 comments on “Why America’s Kim, Not Nigeria’s Okonjo-Iweala Deserved To ‘Eat’ The World Bank Job, And Dlamini-Zuma Should Be The African Union’s Next CEO

  1. Agaba Rugaba
    April 17, 2012 at 7:45 pm #

    Charles, how about we get an astute technocrat to run the AU, some one in the mould of your friend Donald Kaberuka who is doing wonders at the African Development Bank. Zuma’s ex- wife can go retire at one of her country homes in SA. For the World Bank job, how about we also adopt the EAC paradigm where the Secretary General position is rotational. Africa gets it today, five years later it goes to Asia, then South America like that. Thanks.

    • nakedchiefs
      April 18, 2012 at 9:06 am #

      Man, these Africans are just not going to adopt higher standards at AU headquarters, than they have at home, I am afraid.

    • mmnjug
      April 18, 2012 at 11:59 am #

      I second Obbo, if at home we create all manner of shenanigans when it comes to positions in Gvt and all, then AU will not be any better……it will just be a reflection of what is happening back in the countries.

      Waiting for that next round of voting for the AU Chief. Maybe the AU job can be rotational basis……now that would work……! No?

  2. Internet Marketing
    April 18, 2012 at 10:58 am #

    This is very important for me. I highly appreciate your opinions. Thanks.

  3. BC
    April 18, 2012 at 11:15 am #

    Brutal but realistic…he who pays the piper calls the tune or atalina sente tafumita lindazi.

  4. Kisoro
    April 19, 2012 at 3:43 am #

    Now that our candidate lost out, are you by any chance suggesting that our tin pot dictators will learn the lesson and contribute more to avoid disappontment in the future? Or as citizens of these thieving countries, we should limit our aspiration for higher goals by obtaining just enough qualification, whatever that might be?
    No Charles, what you do is simply justify the unfair practices of the West when it comes to dealing with the rest of the world.
    The most qualified woman should have got the job, period.
    We know Paris Hilton is not the CEO of Hilton Worldwide. And she is never going to be one. She however enjoys the spoils of her ancestors’ hardwork whilst in Hollywood as a socialite while a more competent person is running the empire.
    The West could have hired Ngozi, the best qualified to run their show, as she was clearly one this time around.
    As a matter of fact, the talk is that future heads may not be American. As it should be.

  5. Berna
    April 19, 2012 at 7:04 pm #

    @Agaba, I entirely agree with you … AU needs Kaberuka’s touch!! Besides, South Africa even with its massive economic wealth has not been very useful to Africans!!! But well, Kaberuka has also not officially declared his interest in the position:-) But I agree with you Charles , Dlamini is the best candidate , at least for now!!

  6. Daniel Ongera Nyairo
    April 19, 2012 at 7:35 pm #

    I have always agreed with you,but on this I think you got it wrong.The recruitments at world bank IMF should be more inclusive.

  7. new york website design
    April 23, 2012 at 9:52 am #

    I actually would certainly like to say thank you for this valuable educational contribution. You can’t envision how long it needed me to uncover your website and this handy information and facts. Looking forward to come across more articles like this. Have a wonderful day.


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