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Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

economist , government official

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is the Finance Minister of Nigeria and former Foreign Minister of Nigeria, notable for being the first woman to hold either of these positions. Iweala was considered as a possible replacement for embattled World Bank President, Paul Wolfowitz.

Background

Ethnicity: Okonjo-Iweala is an Igbo(ethnic group of southeastern Nigeria) from Ogwashi-Uku, Delta State where her father Professor Chukuka Okonjo was the Obi (King) from the Umu Obi Obahai Royal Family of Ogwashi-Uku.

She is married and has 4 children.

Address of her office: The World Bank Group 1818 H St Northwest Washington DC 20433

Career

Prior to her ministerial career in Nigeria, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala was vice-president and corporate secretary of the World Bank Group. Both during her years at the World Bank and in her service to Nigeria, she developed a reputation for hard work on democratization and debt management issues. Some however consider her economic reform policies not beneficial to the poor who constitute approximately 80% of the population. Others regard her reforms as a necessary first step in retooling Nigeria's finances, battered by over 15 years of military dictatorship, prior to the restoration of democracy in 1999. In October 2005, she led the Nigerian team that struck a deal with the Paris Club, a group of bilateral creditors, to pay off Nigeria's external debt. She also introduced in Nigeria the practice of publishing each state's monthly financial allocation from the federal government in the newspapers.

Some controversy surrounded Okonjo-Iweala’s appointment as Finance Minister, and that of Foreign Affairs minister, Olu Adeniji, United Nations over the payment of their salary in dollars. Okonjo Iweala and Olu Adeniji were paid US$240,000, compared with their own $6,000 base salary. The controversy was spearheaded by reform-minded media reports, although Okonjo-Iweala felt that her critics were unjustified because of the temporary nature of the payment, which came out of the donor-supported Diaspora Fund negotiated by the Nigerian government.On Friday, 20 July 2007, the Court of Appeal ruled that the salary payment was not done within the ambit of Nigeria's laws, and directed her and Adeniji to pay back the excess to the account of the state.

On October 4, 2007, World Bank President Robert Zoellick appointed her to the post of Managing Director.

In 2011, Okonjo-Iweala was reappointed as Minister of Finance with the expanded portfolio of the Coordinating Minister for the Economy by President Goodluck Jonathan.

During her confirmation as a Minister, she stressed the need to reduce the country's recurrent expenditure which is presently 74% of the National Budget and embark on capital projects which could improve the 14% unemployment rate in the country.

Connections

Husband:
Ikemba Iweala - Nigerian

Son:
Onyinye Iweala - Nigerian

He received Ph.D. in Experimental Pathology from Harvard University in 2008 and graduated Harvard Medical School in 2010.

Son:
Uzodinma Iweala - Nigerian - author , Phisician

He is the author of the critically acclaimed novel Beasts of No Nation (2005) and the newly released thoughts on the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa in 2012.