March 23 - Nigeria's finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is expected to be nominated to head the World Bank. Rough Cut (No reporter narration)
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) The United States faces an unprecedented challenge to its grip on the World Bank presidency, with emerging economies poised to nominate at least one candidate on Friday (March 23) to set up the first contested bid for the top job at the global development lender. Less than a day before the nomination deadline, Washington has yet to announce its candidate. South Africa is set to confirm the candidacy of Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a respected economist, diplomat and former World Bank managing director. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BISMARCK REWANE, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF FINANCIAL DERIVATIVES COMPANY LIMITED, SAYING: "For a Nigerian to clinch that job which is unprecedented, it is usually reserved for the U.S., would be a glass-shattering development. Why do I say this? I say this because I think that the minister of finance of Nigeria being appointed president of the World Bank puts her in a very, very strong position to influence global perception about emerging markets and also, in fact, gives further access to influence in Nigeria to alter and accelerate the reform programme. So I see it as a win-win." Okonjo-Iweala quit the World Bank last year to become Nigeria's finance minister. Her candidacy is being proposed after consultations between South African President Jacob Zuma and Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, sources said. The United States has held the presidency since the bank's inception after World War Two, and a European has always headed its sister organization, the International Monetary Fund. While the Obama administration has said it would nominate someone to replace Robert Zoellick when he steps down in June, its choice remains shrouded in mystery. The deadline for nominations is 6 p.m. Washington time (2200 GMT). The World Bank board of member countries will then shortlist the names of three candidates and finalise its choice by the time of IMF and World Bank semi-annual meetings on April 21. The new head of the poverty-fighting institution would be taking over, as the euro zone debt crisis slows the global economic recovery, undercutting demand in emerging and developing markets.