The immediate past Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, has described as false media reports that her appointment as Alternate Executive Director (AED) of the World Bank did not follow due process.
Ahmed was reacting to an online news report published at the weekend that she sidestepped the Federal Government’s nomination procedures to appropriate the position to herself without following due process.
In a response to an enquiry by our reporter on Monday, the former Minister confirmed the appointment, which is expected to take effect from July 10, 2023, but denied insinuations about any wrongdoing.
“The report (about not following due process) is false. Mr President (Muhammadu Buhari) approved the nomination. This was conveyed to the bank”, the former Minister said in a short response to a text message sent to her seeking her clarification.
She later forwarded a short statement earlier issued on the issue by her media aide, Yunusa Tanko Abdullahi.
The statement read: “Thank you for your enquiry. In the first instance, the World Bank is a reputable organisation with its rules and processes.
Secondly, any one working at that level of Alternate Executive Director (AED) must be a representative of his or her country and would have gotten such approval and endorsement from his or her government,” Abdullahi stated.
He said the position became available since October 2022 when the World Bank wrote to Nigeria seeking nomination for the position.
Following a notification from the World Bank, the media aide said the former President gave the approval in April 2023 for the former Minister to take up the position.
However, he said the former President’s approval was with the understanding that Mrs Ahmed would delay her assumption of office till after her tenure as the Minister of Finance.
Abdullahi clarified that the former Minister could not have nominated herself and also approved the appointment as the report insinuated.
“I can therefore confirm to you that the former President approved her being the AED at the World Bank representing Nigeria,” Abdullahi said.
The online platform had claimed that on the eve of the expiration of the tenure of the Buhari administration, the former Minister “single-handedly nominated herself as the federal government’s candidate without the approval of the outgoing President and the incoming President Bola Tinubu.”
The report alleged that the plot was “conceived and hatched by a former Minister of Finance against Nigeria to circumvent and deny Nigeria of quality representation at the World Bank Group for several months and fraudulently nominating herself for the job, by appropriating the position to herself without recourse to the Federal Government.
The platform claimed that the World Bank Group wrote to Nigeria requesting for the Curriculum Vitaes of at least three economists to fill a vacant position as the AED.
But the letter, which was routed through the office of the Minister of Finance, was hidden away from the public, thereby denying the federal government valuable inputs into the nomination process.
Beyond her appointment, the Minister was said to have equally limited the selection of support staff that would work with her to her immediate aides at the Ministry of Finance.
The online platform quoted an unnamed senior official of the World Bank in Washington DC as saying that some of the supporting aides are “either too junior and in most cases lack the requisite expertise, experience and qualifications required by the World Bank.”
Among those currently being considered as part of her support staff, the platform pointed out, are an unnamed female who worked at the Debt Management Office (DMO), a former director at IER, and two of her female aides in the Ministry.
When the former minister would eventually assume office, she would work with a South African, Ayanda Dlondlo, who is the Executive Director (EDS25) in the Office of the Executive Director known as Africa Group 3 Constituency, representing Angola, Nigeria and South Africa.
The Executive Directors are responsible for conducting the day-to-day business of the 189 member countries of the World Bank to present a consensus on development issues, while an Alternate Executive Director has the full power to act for the World Bank in the absence of the substantive Director.
▪︎ Report by Mediatracnet.com