Despised at home, Okonjo-Iweala bags Asian bank appointment

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

With many calling for her probe over the re-looting of funds allegedly looted by late Head of State, General Sani Abacha, under her watch as Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has been appointed a member of the international advisory panel of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

The AIIB is a multilateral international Development Bank set up on December 25, 2015, with an initial capital of US$100 billion, one million shares and an initial paid-up capital of US$20 billion.

A statement at the weekend announced that Okonjo-Iweala would join 10 other key persons on the panel.

“The panel provides impartial, objective and independent advice to the President, allowing the Bank to benefit from the international experience and expertise of panel members,” AIIB Senior Communication Officer, Mr Song Liyan said.

The AIIB President, Jin Liqun also said the panel members would advise the Bank on the development of its strategy.

He said: “It is a great honour to convene such an experienced and diverse group of international leaders to advise on the development of the Bank’s strategy.

“I have no doubt that the advice the panel provides will help shape the development of the Bank in the years ahead.

“I could not ask for a better group of ambassadors to help promote our new Bank to the world,” Jin said.

The panel members include former Bank Negara Malaysia governor Dr Zeti Aziz, former Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, and former Swedish finance minister Anders Borg.

The others are former Timor-Leste finance minister Emilia Pires, former World Bank chief economist Nicholas Stern and former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, Global Foundation secretary-general Steve Howard.

Others include Korea National Diplomatic Academy chair professor and former South Korean deputy prime minister and strategy and finance minister Dr Oh-Seok Hyun.

Former U.S. ambassador Paul Speltz and London School of Economics professor and former Hong Kong chief executive Tung Chee-Hwa are the remaining panel members.

Okonjo-Iweala has admitted giving $322 million of the funds allegedly looted by late Abacha to former National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki with the approval of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

She said Dasuki made an urgent request for the purchase of arms in the heat of the fight against Boko Haram because there could be no development without peace.

Media reports had accused Okonjo-Iweala of illegally approving the transfer of at least N61.4 billion ($300 million and £5.5 million) from funds recovered from Abacha, to Dasuki, few weeks to the 2015 presidential election.

She denies all allegations of financial impropriety.