THE chances of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala winning the World Bank Presidency tomorrow — following the withdrawal of the Columbian candidate, Jose Antonio Ocampo, as well as unconditional support from Africa, China and other developing countries — may have dimmed as a result of boardroom intrigues and politics that seek to enthrone United States’ candidate, Jim Yong Kim, a health expert.

But the Mo Ibrahim Foundation yesterday warned the US against moves to pervert the process and deny non-American candidates of winning chances.

The warning followed a week of intense lobbying and deal-making that also saw former Okonjo-Iweala’s strong supporter, Russia, declaring for the US’ candidate, thereby making Ocampo’s withdrawal for the African candidate of little or no effect.

Ocampo’s withdrawal for the Nigeria’s Minister of Finance yesterday, has left Okonjo-Iweala standing as the sole candidate from developing nations in a race against US nominee, Kim, a Korean-American health expert.

But even as the Nigerian/African candidate appears likely to win despite US support for Kim, due to her strong potentials and experience at the Bank, indications emerged last night that forces among the Board Members have perfected plans to scuttle her ambition in tomorrow’s election.

An inside source told The Guardian on telephone that the Board’s traditional process of discussing the potentials of screened candidates ahead of the open elections tomorrow were scuttled by vested interests to make way for the preferred American candidate.

Last Friday, the Board met to discuss the nominations after interviewing the three candidates from Monday to Wednesday. One of the issues was to discuss the relative merits of the three candidates in relation to their credentials and performance during the interviews. According to source, the Board could not hold the discussion as the pro-US board members, which sought to scuttle it, influenced the Board to opt for a “general kind of discussion. They were afraid that Okonjo-Iweala was going to come tops.”

It was also gathered that a few of the Board members from Africa and some developing countries were unhappy with the development.

“It was almost like a coup, because it is part of the US’ strategy ” said the insider source, who wondered why the US candidate has been media-shy since the he was nominated by President Obama.

“The US wants to win votes; it is a pity that politics is going to win over merit,” he said.

Meanwhile, sources close to the Nigerian candidate yesterday, said the thinking of the Ministry is that “it has been a worthwhile battle; both she and Ocampo have made history. For the first time, there has been a credible challenge; It’s been a real victory,” the source said.

Mo Ibrahim expressed the concern that the outcome would remain “sadly predetermined,” unless the United States of America showed the willingness to forgo its sense of entitlement to the World Bank.

A statement signed by the Foundation noted: that “it is high time” the US allowed a merit-based and transparent contest for the presidency to allow non-American candidates a genuine chance of winning.

“But what we are drifting towards is a continuation of the status quo. The world is changing.”

“For more than a decade, since the Asian financial crisis, developing nations and emerging powers had sought to reflect the evolution of the global economy and geo-strategic concerns in the structure and leadership of international institutions. It is an anachronism for the leadership of the World Bank, and its sister institution, the International Monetary Fund, to remain the sole preserve of established powers,” the statement read.

by [email protected] (By Marcel Mbamalu)