Nigeria’s former Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, has been accused of nominating herself to fill the position of an Alternative Executive Director in the World Bank, a position earmarked for the country.
A report by online newspaper, Per Second News (PSN), alleged that Ahmed deliberately circumvented the process using her position as minister to hold down the position for eight months to enable her nominate herself and foist a fait accompli on the World Bank Group.
By her action, the report claimed, Nigeria was denied the opportunity to present a qualified person with an economic background to fill the position.
This she consciously did in preparation to resumption of office anytime soon consequent upon the formalisation of her appointment without recourse to the federal government, it stated.
The World Bank Group, months ago had written a letter to the federal government requesting for the Curriculum Vitae of at least three economists which are qualified to fill the vacant position of the AED.
“The letter was passed through the office of the Minister of Finance who hid the letter, thereby denying the federal government’s input into the nomination process,” PSN quoted a source to have revealed.
“Another brewing controversy is in the selection of staff to work with her as she has narrowed the selection down to her aides when she was at the Ministry of Finance.
“Some of these aides are either too junior and in most cases lack the expertise and qualifications required by the World Bank,” the source was quoted as saying.
A female (name withheld) who was at the Debt Management Office, DMO, a former director IER, and two of her female aides are also considered as part of her team.
“The former minister will work out of the Office of the Executive Director (EDS25) known as Africa Group 3 Constituency, representing Angola, Nigeria, and South Africa.
“She will work under Ayanda Dlondlo, a South Africa who is the Executive Director (EDS25).
“The Alternate Executive Directors fulfill a dual function, as officials of the Bank and as representatives of the member-country or countries that appointed them.
“They have the full power to act for the World Bank Director when he or she is not present.
“The staff (members) of the EDS25 are committed to working with the 189 World Bank- member countries to present a consensus development issues,” the source concluded.
On Monday, the former minister denied the allegation insisting that she got the approval of former President Muhammadu Buhari, to act as she did.
“In the first instance, the World Bank is a reputable organization with its rules and processes.
“Secondly, anyone 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. It will be recalled that the position became available in October 2022.
“Mr President was notified and approval was gotten in April 2023, but with the understanding that Dr. Zainab Ahmed cannot report until after the end of her tenure as Minister.
“Therefore the former minister couldn’t have nominated herself and also approved such. I can therefore confirm to you that the former President approved her being the AED at the World Bank representing Nigeria,” she said.