The Biography of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is a Nigerian economist, author and an entrepreneur. She is the first female Finance Minister and the first female Foreign Affairs Minister in Nigeria. Also the first female and black candidate to contest for the presidency of World Bank Group in 2012. Okonjo-Iweala is a power woman who during her time as a Minister of Finance spearheaded negotiations with the Paris Club of creditors that led to wiping out of US$30billion Nigerian’s debt. She also initiated processes that helped improve Nigeria’s macroeconomic management and reduce macroeconomic volatility. All her initiatives tackled corruption to an extent and restored the faith of investors in Nigeria thereby creating more jobs for youth.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Biography

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was born to a royal family on the 13th of June, 1954. She hails from Ogwashi-Ukwu, Delta State. Her parents, Chukwuka and Kamene Okonjo were professors at the University of Ibadan. Okonjo-Iweala’s father is the Obi from the Obahai Royal family of Ogwashi-Ukwu, Delta State.

She had her secondary education at International School Ibadan and St. Anne’s School, Molete, Ibadan. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala proceeded to Harvard University where she graduated with an AB honours in Economics in 1977. She holds a PhD in Regional Economics and Development from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Okonjo-Iweala is married to Dr. Ikemba Iweala, a retired neurosurgeon and emergency physician. They are blessed with four children, Uzodinma Iweala, Onyinye Iweala, Uchechi Iweala and Ikechukwu Iweala. One of her sons, Uzodima Iweala is an American author and medical doctor.

Career of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala:

Okonjo-Iweala started out as an intern in World Bank Group. After graduation, she returned to World Bank Group and worked for many years as a development economist. She held the post of Corporate Secretary and Vice President.

Following her role as Vice President, she was appointed as Nigeria’s Finance Minister under President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration.

Ngozi Okonjo- Iweala’s impact was felt as the Minister of Finance under President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration as she and her team carried out notable projects including building electronic financial management platform for government.

Afterwards, she was appointed as a Managing Director of World Bank Group. As the Managing Director, she led several World Bank initiatives to assist low-income countries during food and financial crises.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was reappointed as Finance Minister during President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, with expanded portfolio of the coordinating Minister of the Economy.

In 2015, she joined Lazard, a financial advisory and asset management firm. She serves as a Senior Advisor in the organisation.


Some of Okonjo-Iweala’s Achievements as a Minister
She improved macroeconomics management of Nigeria including implementation of an oil-price based fiscal rule.
Initiated the practice of publishing federal government’s monthly allocation of each state in newspapers.
With support from World Bank and IMF, she built an electronic financial management platform which helped in eliminating many ghost workers in the system; thus saving Nigerian government huge sum of money.
Spearheaded the negotiation that closed a deal with the Paris Club wiping out US$30billion Nigerian’s debt.
Empowered Nigeria’s women through the Growing Girls and Women in Nigeria Program (GWIN).
She was instrumental in boosting Nigeria’s credit rating from Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s.
Empowered Nigeria’s youth through Youth Enterprise with Innovation Program (YouWIN). The program support entrepreneurs that create jobs for Nigerians.


Other Interest of Ngozi

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is also an entrepreneur. She founded NOI Polls, Nigeria’s first indigenous opinion research organisation in 2006. The company partnered with Gallup USA to develop opinion research in Nigeria. NOI Polls provides timely and relevant information on public opinion on various social and economic issues. The company’s focus is on governance issues, market trends, performance of government and private institutions.

She is a public speaker; she has delivered powerful speeches at various events including 2015 Global Landscapes Forum, TED Talk, African Development Bank Group Annual Meetings and 2016 SIPA’s Graduation.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is also an author.
She has published 5 books:
Chinua Achebe: Teacher of Light (2003)

Economic Reforms: Progress and Challenges (2007)

Transparency and Accountability in the Management of Public Funds (2011)

Reforming the Unreformable (2012)

Fighting Corruption is Dangerous (2018)

Appointments and Boards where Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Serves
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was appointed as the independent non-executive director at Standard Chartered PLC in July 2017 and also Twitter’s Board of Directors in July 2018.

She chairs a number of boards and advisory groups including Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI), Lionwork Capital, DATA, Nelson Mandela Institution, African University of Science and Technology in Nigeria and African Union’s African Risk Capacity.

Okonjo-Iweala is a member of Rockefeller Foundation, the Harvard University Advisory Council, the Mercy Corp Global Leadership Council, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank International Advisory Board and the Commission of New Climate Economy.

She is also a member of International Commission on Financing the Global Education, the Women’s World Banking, the World Economic Forum Young Global Leaders Foundation, Result for Development Institutes, the B Team.

Okonjo-Iweala was the chairman, Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company PLC, World Bank’s Development Committee and Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation.

She was a member of International Monetary and Finance Committee of the IMF, the United Nations’ Secretary General’s High Level Panel, the Danish Government Led Commission on Africa, the Commission on World Growth and the World Economic Forum Global Leadership Council.

Okonjo-Iweala is a distinguished visiting fellow at the Centre for Global Development and the Brookings Institution.

She has served on the advisory boards of the Clinton Global Initiative and the ONE Foundation.


Recognition and Awards:

Minister of the Year at ThisDay Awards 2004
Minister of the Year at Time Europe Hero Awards 2004
Global Minister of the Year by EuroMoney Magazine 2005
African Minister of the Year by Financial Times 2005
Minister of the Year at ThisDay Awards 2005
100 Global Thinkers by Foreign Polices 2011
100 Women in the World by The Guardian UK Newspaper 2011
Forbes’ 100 Most Powerful Women in World 2011
Forbes’ 10 Most Influential Women in Africa 2011
100 Women in the World by The Guardian UK Newspaper 2011
100 Global Thinkers by Foreign Policies 2012
Woman of the Year by Silverbird 2012
Forbes’ 100 Most Powerful Women in the World 2013
Financial Minister of the Year by Africa Investor Magazine 2014
Forbes’ 100 Most Powerful Women in the World 2014
100 Most Influential People in the World by TIMES Magazine 2014
50 Greatest World Leaders by Fortune Magazine 2015
Global Fairness Award by Global Fairness Initiatives 2016

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