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World Bank Presidency: Who Wins?

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With the withdrawal of Colombian ex-finance minister, Jose Antonio Ocampo, from the World Bank Presidency race last Friday, the die is now cast between Dr. Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria and Jim Yong Kim, a Korean-American.

Kim is backed by US, Europe and Japan which control about 54 percent of the votes. From the look of things, the deal has been sealed by Europe and US with the support of Japan and Canada. But the rest of the world whose finance ministers and Central Bank governors will meet over the issue have the rest of the votes.

Brazil, India, Russia, China and South Africa are considering block votes for their own candidate, Dr Okonjo Iweala. This thinking was what probably informed the decision of Ocampo to withdraw from the race to brighten Okonjo-Iweala’s chance.

With the board of the World Bank  meeting today in Washington DC, to pick a new president, Ocampo said he hoped emerging-market nations would rally behind Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in a race he said had turned highly political.

Okonjo-Iweala, a former World Bank Managing Director, is now the sole candidate from developing nations in a race against U.S. nominee Jim Yong Kim, a Korean-American health expert who appears almost certain to secure the post by block votes from US, Europe and Japan.

Ocampo, who was nominated by Brazil, said his candidacy had been “handicapped” by a lack of support from his own country. Colombia said last month it was focusing on a bid for the presidency of the International Labor Organization, where it had a greater chance of success.

If Dr Okonjo Iweala does not win, it is not because she is not the right person but because of international politics involved in the process of selecting the World Bank President which often times sacrifices merit on the altar of international political alignments.

Ocampo puts it clearly thus: “It is clear that the process is shifting from a strict merit-based competition, in which my candidacy stood on strong grounds, into a more political-oriented exercise. In this process, I stand on weaker grounds due to the lack of open support from the government of my home country, Colombia.”

Ocampo, the director of economic and political development at Columbia University in New York, said he did not believe the selection process had been conducted in a fully open, transparent and merit-based fashion, but it had established a strong precedent.

If the process is not transparent, what signal is America and Europe which claim to champion merit-based appointments in a democratic system sending to the rest of the world? What morals will the US and the rest of advanced democracy have against those they call despots in other parts of the world?

What right will America and Europe have to condemn flawed election in Africa? Will this show of naked power weaken the World Bank? Will developing and emerging economies muster courage to ask the West to take their World Bank and set up something for themselves?

However, Ocampo’s decision to leave the race does not mean all developing countries will support Okonjo-Iweala when the World Bank board tries to find a successor to Robert Zoellick, who is departing in June. Indeed, the promise of a united front from emerging markets evaporated on Friday when Russia said it would support Kim, becoming the first major emerging economy to do so.

Russia in a statement on Friday said: “Taking into account Mr. Kim’s considerable professional qualities, as well as his experience and knowledge, the Russian Federation will support the candidacy of Jim Yong Kim during the voting by the bank’s board of directors.”

Under an informal agreement, the World Bank has always been headed by an American and the International Monetary Fund by a European. Emerging-market nations have been seeking to challenge U.S. leadership at the bank to increase their influence in global economic institutions long dominated by rich nations.

While Kim is still the favourite to win the World Bank presidency due to backing from the United States and European countries, a rigorous challenge from developing countries could put them in a stronger position to extract concessions.

This challenge also increases their chances of winning senior jobs coming open in the next few months, including chief economist and head of the International Finance Corp, the World Bank’s private-sector lending arm.

Okonjo-Iweala thanked Ocampo and said his presence had helped to further a shared goal of an open selection process.

“I am proud that Dr. Ocampo and I have helped make history by changing the way World Bank presidential elections are contested,” she said in a statement.

Last week the Board of Executive Directors of the World Bank conducted interviews for the three nominated into the position. Dr. Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was first to be interviewed, followed by Jose Antinio Ocampo and Jim Yong Kim

Yong Kim is a US national and President of Dartmouth College, New Hampshire. The Korean-born Kim, 52, according to USA Today represents a break from the financiers and bureaucrats who have run the World Bank. This, Mr. Uri Dadush, director of international economics at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington and a former World Bank Director of economic policy says, is both strength and a weakness.

“This is a very smart man and has many of the characteristics that you would look for in a World Bank president. He is going to have a major challenge to overcome a characterisation as being too focused on the health and education agenda and to develop a deep understanding of the broader development agenda of the bank.”

Experts agree that Mr Kim lacks experience in boosting economic growth, a key part of the bank’s mission yet he is favoured to be selected today as the President of the World Bank. Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a Nigerian national and Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, 57, is a respected economist and diplomat, mother of four children. She has spent more than two decades in numerous positions at the World Bank.

Ordinarily, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala who until recently served as the Bank’s Managing Director would be expected by experience to pick up the job, but the President of the World Bank as described by Ocampo is made out of choice of convenience by the super powers.

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June 12: DSS Issues Stern Warning Against Protest

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The Department of State Services (DSS) has warned individuals and groups planning to stage protests on June 12, Democracy Day, to desist from any violent or disruptive actions.
The warning was contained in a statement signed by the Director of Public Relations and Strategic Communications, DSS, Dr Peter Afunanya, yesterday.
The Service said it has received intelligence on plans to incite violence and disrupt public order during the protests.
The security agency vowed to maintain public safety and national security and urged citizens to resist any persuasions to engage in lawless acts.
The DSS also encouraged disgruntled persons to channel their grievances through appropriate channels and procedures.
Afunanya said: “The attention of the Department of State Services (DSS) has been drawn to plans by certain individuals and groups to stage physical protests in some parts of the country on 12th June 2024. These protests are designed with sinister objectives to coincide with the Democracy Day Celebration.
“While citizens may have the rights of assembly and expression, such freedoms should not be used to undermine public safety and national security. The determination by some non-state actors to incite mass disaffection through demonstrations that may turn violent will not be tolerated.
“Citizens are, therefore, called upon to resist any persuasions to be lawless or cause disorder and anarchy in the nation. Displeased persons are rather encouraged to appropriately channel their grievances through the right channels and procedures.
“The Service, while felicitating the government and citizens on this auspicious occasion of celebrating 25 years of unbroken democracy, calls for continued patriotism, unity and commitment to building a Nigeria of our collective dream.
“The Service will sustain collaboration with all relevant stakeholders, including sister security agencies, to maintain the peace as well as protect lives and property across the nation. Law-abiding citizens are enjoined to go about their businesses without fear.”

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Court’s CTC Validates Our Position On Amaewhule, Others -Rivers AG …Advises Media Against Misinterpretation Of Judgements

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The Rivers State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Dagogo Israel Iboroma, SAN, has said that the State High Court neither declared nor affirmed Martin Amaewhule as Speaker of the House of Assembly, stressing that the certified true copy (CTC) of court judgment validates the government’s position.
Mr Iboroma also urged media practitioners to desist from giving interpretations to court judgments by fiat, emotional or other shades of persuasions.
Rather, he advised that they should first obtain the judgement in order to read it thoroughly to gain proper understanding or at best, seek competent legal advice before going to press.
Mr Iboroma gave the advice yesterday night while briefing newsmen after obtaining the certified true copy (CTC) of the Monday court judgment in Port Harcourt.
The briefing was to restate his earlier position that there was no court ruling that ever declared or affirmed Martin Amaewhule and 26 others as members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Rivers State House of Assembly.
Iboroma said: “Yesterday (Monday), I briefed the press and made the point that there is a misrepresentation of the judgment of the High Court of Rivers State in Suit No. DHC/20/CS/2024 in social, print, and electronic media.
“My position has been confirmed and vindicated by the Certified True Copy of the court order in Suit No. DHC/20/CS/2024.”
Mr Iboroma stated that a court order embodied the enforceable decisions of a court, adding that in this case in focus, the enforceable orders of the court will necessarily entail the specific pronouncements of the court.
He listed the three orders of the court in the judgment to include: “That this Suit be and is hereby dismissed/struck out for want of jurisdiction.
“That the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) be and is hereby joined as 4th defendant.
“That the claimants’ case be and is hereby dismissed for lacking in merit.”
Mr Iboroma further said: “Contrary to the false claims and misrepresentation in social, print and electronic media, the court did not make a declaration that Martin Amaewhule is the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, neither did it make a declaration that Martin Amaewhule and 26 others are members of the Rivers State House of Assembly and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“If it were so, it would have been embodied in the court orders which have been circulated to you all and displayed by me here for the purpose of clarity.”
Mr Iboroma regretted that by the deliberate misrepresentation of yesterday (Monday), the court was painted in bad light and the public misled with such misinformation.
He said: “Whatever finding of fact that is not included in the court order is an Obiter Dictum, which has no binding force.
“Once again, I respectively urge the media to desist from giving any interpretation to any judgement without first reading the content of the judgement and seeking legal advice,” the attorney-general added.

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Sexual Harassment: Minister Drags Perm Sec Before Head Of Service

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The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Yusuf Tuggar, has formally lodged a complaint with the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation regarding allegations of sexual harassment levelled against the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Ambassador Ibrahim Lamuwa.
In a letter addressed to the HOCSF dated May 27, 2024, Tuggar expressed his concern over the serious nature of the allegation levelled against the permanent secretary by Mrs Simisola Ajayi.
He emphasised the importance of addressing the matter urgently and thoroughly.
The letter was titled, “Re: Official Complaint Regarding Sexual Harassment Of Mrs Simisola Fajemirokun Ajayi By Ambassador Ibrahim Adamu Lamuwa (Permanent Secretary Ministry Of Foreign Affairs.
It read, “I am compelled to write to inform you of a formal complaint against the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Ibrahim Adamu Lamuwa, on allegations of sexual harassment.
“Bearing in mind the gravity of the matter, I feel it necessary to draw your attention to it and ask that you handle it accordingly,”
The letter included an attachment of the complaint received via email, and Tuggar assured the HOCSF his full cooperation in the investigation.
“May I also assure you that I remain available to provide you with any assistance required in discharging your responsibilities,” he added.
Ajayi, had a petition dated May 29, 2024, addressed to Tuggar, accused the permanent secretary of serial sexual harrasment.
Ajayi, through her lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), called for a thorough investigation into the actions of Amb. Lamuwa.
The petition, signed by Adebayo A. Oniyelu LP of Falana & Falana’s, was titled “Request For An Investigation Of Amb. Ibrahim Lamuwa’s Conducts Of Sexual Harassment At The Place Of Work, Abuse Of Office, Official Intimidation And Discrimination.”
According to the petition, Ajayi narrated multiple instances of harassment allegedly by Lamuwa, which have created an unsafe and uncomfortable working environment.
She claimed for instance that during a policy retreat on October 7, 2023, Lamuwa allegedly made inappropriate advances towards her, suggesting she joined him in his hotel room.
He reportedly continued with inappropriate remarks throughout the retreat.
She also cited an incident on November 10, 2023, where Lamuwa allegedly invited Ajayi to travel to Hong Kong, promising significant personal benefits from the trip.

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