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How Okonjo-Iweala missed UN job

Posted by FROM LAOLU AKANDE, NEW YORK on 2007/01/08 | Views: 986 |

How Okonjo-Iweala missed UN job


Nigeria's former Finance and Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala narrowly missed being appointed the new Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations as Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opted instead for Tanzania's Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr. Asha-Rose Migiro.

Nigeria's former Finance and Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala narrowly missed being appointed the new Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations as Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opted instead for Tanzania's Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr. Asha-Rose Migiro.

Ki-moon named the Tanzanian Foreign Minister in fulfillment of his commitment to the African Group at the UN that he will pick an African woman for the position. It was Ki-moon's second major appointment of a woman to a UN leadership position. Earlier in the week he named Mexican Alicia Barcena Ibarra, as Undersecretary-General for Management. Ibarra was Kofi Annan Chief of Staff.

Africa remains the source of more than 60 per cent of UN business, whether at the Secretariat or at the Security Council. An African, Kofi Annan is the immediate past Secretary-General of the UN, and there had been concerns that with his exit, the world body may loose its focus on Africa.

The appointment of an African as Deputy Secretary-General is being hailed by Africans in the UN and Africans abroad.

In the race for the Deputy Secretary General, UN sources said, Ki-moon considered all the four women who are holding and have held offices as Foreign Ministers in their countries. He considered candidates from Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Niger and Nigeria.

But Okonjo-Iweala was the better known of the lot, especially in the western press and among western leaders. A former World Bank Vice President, she is regarded very highly in international development circles.

Okonjo-Iweala was at the UN headquarters earlier in the week when she was said to have been interviewed for the job. It is believed that the decision came down to either Iweala or the Tanzanian Foreign Minister who was eventually picked. At the UN, Iweala also met with Nigeria's Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Aminu Wali who happens to be the leader of the African Group at the UN.

It was also disclosed that Migiro, who was not present at the UN during the week for a face-to-face interview, was nonetheless considered a better fit for the office considering her closer links to the developing world in terms of her views and advocacy on issues of development from the perspective of the developing world.

Efforts to reach Dr. Okonjo-Iweala for comments were abortive as at press time. But Nigeria's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Wali said the African Group at the UN were delighted at the appointment of a "competent and highly qualified African woman for the job of Deputy Secretary-General."

Wali said the group had already sent a congratulatory to the Secretary-General and the new Deputy Secretary-General. He praised Ki-moon for honoring his commitment to Africa.

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