Saturday, June 25, 2011

Okonjo-Iweala set to be named as economic czar

24 June 2011

As the president puts finishing touches to his list of cabinet nominees Thursday evening, close aides say the president has decided to name Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as finance minister and economic czar.

In the position, not unlike the role she played as finance minister and chairman of the presidential economic team under Olusegun 0basanjo, Mrs Okonjo-Iweala is expected to be a kind of super-minister with wide swathes over the economy.

Talks had recently stalled after Mrs Okonjo-Iweala, currently a managing director at World Bank, demanded greater executive powers and responsibility in the new administration. In an effort to secure her services, President Jonathan has designed a new State House organogram which fulfils her requirements. Her proposed designation satisfies one of the key conditions for the World Bank managing director, who is now poised to return to her old stomping grounds in Abuja.

Mrs Okonjo-Iweala brings star power to President Jonathan’s cabinet, about the only real dramatic senior appointment he has so far proposed.

But her anticipated role is believed to be causing anxiety in circles around Mr Jonathan, a larger than life outsider who is almost certain to overwhelm many of the lesser known aides around the president.

“Many of the president’s close aides and some politicians are certainly quite worried about her,” said one source close to the president.

However, President Jonathan has ignored the last minute opposition and, barring any last minute wrangles, he is expected to submit his list of cabinet nominees to the senate this afternoon, almost four weeks after his inauguration. Although the official list has not yet been released, several individuals, including a substantial chunk of former ministers, have undergone security screening in the past few weeks ahead of potential nomination.

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