Zainab Ahmed, Nigeria’s immediate past minister of finance, budget and national planning, is set to resume at the World Bank in Washington DC as an alternate executive director (AED). Ahmed will reportedly take up the job on July 10, 2023.
As an AED, she is expected to work under Ayanda Dlondlo, a former South African minister, who is the executive director, Africa Group 3 Constituency (EDS25), representing Angola, Nigeria and South Africa.
Yunusa Tanko, a media adviser to Ahmed, Abdullahi confirmed the new job in a note late Sunday night.
His response followed an online news publication which alleged that the former minister’s appointment did not follow due process as she was said to have nominated herself without approval from the Nigeria’s presidency.
The report had also alleged that the World Bank had requested for the nominations of three economists for the AED position, several months before the end of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, but that the minister kept the letter to herself.
In response, Yunusa insisted that Ahmed could not have nominated herself and also approved such.
“In the first instance, the World Bank is a reputable organisation with its rules and processes. Secondly, any one working at that level of AED must be a representative of his or her country and would have gotten such approval and endorsement from his or her government.
It would 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 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.”
BusinessDay is yet to receive any response from the World Bank office asking for it to confirm Ahmed’s appointment for the top post and whether due process was followed in the appointment process as being alleged.
“Sorry, it’s a Sunday and all relevant officers are off work. Not likely to get any update today,” a World Bank official responded to BusinessDay on Sunday.
BusinessDay was also not able to get either Garba Shehu or Femi Adesina – both former media aides to former President Muhammadu Buhari to respond to the story.
But a top source in the office of the chief of staff to the president told BusinessDay off the record that Buhari actually approved her new job with the World Bank.
According to the top government official who refused to put his name in print, “there is no way the former finance minister could have preceded without the president’s approval.
“There was a letter written by the World Bank asking for nominations from the country and the president based on recommendations approved her nomination.
He, however, did not indicate who made the nominations, how many people were nominated and why she was preferred above others if any.
Our source equally confirmed that she is due to resume any moment.
“This was the practice in the last days of former President Buhari. Most of the appointments were done to reward those who worked with him,” another source pointed out.
As seen in Wikipedia, Ahmed is an accountant by profession with a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from ABU Zaria and a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA).
She was appointed as finance minister by President Buhari upon the resignation of Kemi Adeosun from that position September 14, 2018. Earlier in 2015, she was appointed as the minister of state for budget and national planning.
Under her watch, Nigeria’s debt grew astronomically to a record N77 trillion – both local and foreign borrowings, as fiscal authorities who she was supposed to lead watched the economy slip into limbo.
In his article titled- ‘The CBN is powerless to correct economic problems’, Dele Sobowale, a columnist, had late last year raised concerns that Nigeria lacked a Federal Government which can formulate and implement sound fiscal policies.
“The CBN governor is forced to do his job as well as those of the president, vice president, minister of finance and agriculture. Under such circumstances, something has to give way,” he noted while trying to explain how the economy had deteriorated.
The World Bank Group has some 25 executive directors and 25 alternate executive directors representing the 189 member countries.
Executive directors (or alternates) fulfil a dual function, as officials of the bank and as representatives of the member country or countries that appointed or elected them.
The executive directors are responsible for conducting the day-to-day business of the World Bank.