It is an indisputable fact that Nigeria as a geographical entity houses and produces to the world most of the world’s best minds. Contrary to our current reality of profligate and inept personalities holding leadership positions in the country, Nigerians, home and abroad, have always been recognised for their ingenuity and astute leadership qualities.
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Yes, we, as a nation, have been plagued by people whose actions have stained with crimson, our nations wool but they do not characterise the majority of Nigerians who work hard under harsh conditions to make a name for themselves and by extension putting the name of our great country on the map.
Whether it is in sports, economics, politics, business or entertainment, the global discourse can never be exhausted without the mention of at least more than a dozen Nigerians contributing their quota. However, the focus of this article, today is on the Nigerians holding leadership positions in several multilateral organisations in the world.
The last decade has seen Nigerians of different extractions climb to the Apex or near the Apex of these organisations, begging the question, what do these people see in these standout Nigerians that we do not appreciate? Below are the Nigerians currently holding leadership positions in the world.
Akinwumi Adesina: President, African Development Bank (AfDB)
Born on the 6th of February 1960 in Ibadan, Oyo state, Akinwumi Adesina is the current president of the African Development Bank (AfDB). He assumed office on 1st of September 2015 for a five-year term and subsequently won re-election by a unanimous vote on the 27th of August 2020 for a second five-year term.
Adesina was Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture under President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan from 2010 to 2015. In the same year, then UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon appointed him as one of 17 global leaders to spearhead the Millennium Development Goals.
In 2013 he won Forbes African of the year and followed it with another Forbes award in 2019, Forbes African Man of the year for his reform of the Nigerian agricultural sector
In 2016, Adesina was appointed by Ban Ki-moon again to serve as a member of the Lead Group of the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement.
In 2017, he won the 2017 World Food Prize.
Amina J Muhammed: Deputy General-Secretary United Nations (UN)
Amina J Muhammed was born on the 27th of June 1961 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. She was briefly Nigeria’s Minister of Environment from 2015 to 2017 under president Muhammadu Buhari before she was appointed to be the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations on the 28th of February 2017 under the leadership of former Portuguese president and current UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres.
Prior to her ministerial position in Nigeria, Amina has been in and around the international community. From 2002 to 2005, she coordinated the Task Force on Gender and Education for the UN Millennium Project. she was also in charge of the coordination of Nigeria’s debt relief funds toward the achievement of the MDGs in 2005. Here, she was charged with designing a poverty fund with the aim of reducing poverty in Nigeria.
In 2012, She served as a special adviser to UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon’s High-level Panel on Post-2015 Development Agenda and also chaired the advisory board of UNESCO’s Global Monitoring Report on Education (GME).
Amina won the Diplomat of the year award in 2017, she was listed in the BBC 100 women for her role as Deputy Secretary-General of the UN, Global Citizen Prize World Leader Award in 2019, among other recognitions.
Chile Eboe Osuji: President of International Criminal Court (ICC)
Chile Eboe Osuji is the current President of the International Criminal Court (ICC). He was born on the 2nd of September 1962 in Anara, Isiala Mbano, Imo State, Nigeria.
He was called to the Bar in Nigeria in 1986. He also got his master of laws degree in McGill in 1991, thereafter, he worked as a barrister in Canada.
He was a prosecution counsel and senior legal officer to the judges of the tribunal while he was working at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda from 1997 to 2005 and 2008 to 2010. He worked as senior prosecution appeals counsel in the special courts for Sierra Leone from 2007 to 2008 and was also the Legal Advisor to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay in 2010.
On the 16th of December 2011, Chile Eboe Osuji was elected a judge of the international criminal courts. He took office on the 11th of March 2012 and on the 11th March 2018, he was elected president of the ICC for a three-year term.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala: Director-General, World Trade Organisation (WTO)
Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is a household name. Her influence is not limited by the borders of Nigeria, nor is it cut short within the confines of Africa. She is known and revered all over the world. On the 15th of February 2021, she was confirmed as the new Director-General of the World Trade Organisation after gaining overwhelming support from member states which made her closest rival Yoo Myung-hee of South Korea drop from the race. It is worthy to note that South Korea is an American ally.
The most remarkable note of her current achievement is not just being the 7th Director-General but being the first woman and also the first African to hold the position.
Okonjo-Iweala was Nigeria’s minister of finance from 2003 to 2006 and also minister of foreign affairs from 21 June 2006 – 30 August 2006 under President Olusegun Obasanjo. During her term as Minister of Finance, she was instrumental through negotiations with the Paris Club for the cancellation of Nigeria’s 30 billion dollars debt.
Under President Goodluck Jonathan, Dr Ngozi was the Minister of Finance and coordinating minister for the Economy from 2011 to 2015.
The Harvard alumni had a 25-year career at the World Bank where she served as a development economist and eventually became the Managing-Director of the World Bank. In 2012, she was a candidate for World Bank President, aiming to be the first woman to hold the position but lost to eventual winner Jim Yong Kim.
She is the founder of both the NOI-Polls, Nigeria’s first indigenous opinion research organisation and Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa (C-SEA), a research brain trust that is based in Abuja.
In 2020, she was appointed to an external advisory group to provide input on policy challenges by Kristalina Georgieva, IMF Director-General and also as special envoy to solicit international support to help Africa deal with the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic by the African Union (AU).
She has won a host of awards:
- 2020 – African of the year, Forbes Africa.
- 2017 – Vanguard Award, Howard University.
- 2017 – Women’s Economic Empowerment Award, WEConnect International.
- 2017 – Madeleine K. Albright Global Development Award, Aspen Institute.
- 2016 – Power with Purpose Award, Devex Development Communications Network.
- 2016 – Global Fairness Award, Global Fairness Initiative.
- 2014 – David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Award.
- 2011 – President of the Italian Republic Gold Medal, Pia Manzu Centre.
- 2011 – Global Leadership Award, Chicago Council on Global Affairs.
- 2010 – Global Leadership Award, Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs.
- 2010 – Bishop John T. Walker Distinguished Humanitarian Service Award.
- 2004 – TIME’s European Heroes Award.
- 2004 – Finance Minister of the Year, Africa Investor Magazine.
- 2005 – Finance Minister of the Year for Africa and the Middle East, The Banker.
- 2005 – Global Finance Minister of the Year, Euromoney.
- 2005 – Finance Minister of the Year for Africa and the Middle East, Emerging Markets Magazine.
She assumes office as the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation on the 1st of March 2021.
Mohammed Barkindo: Secretary General OPEC
Born on the 20th of April 1959 in Yola, Nigeria, Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo is the current Secretary-General of OPEC. He has held this position since the 1st of August 2016. The Oxford alumni formerly served as acting secretary-general in 2006.
Mohammed led the NNPC from 2009 to 2010 and has headed Nigeria’s technical delegation to UN climate negotiations since 1991.
Nigeria has produced four Secretaries-General of OPEC: M.O. Feyide, Rilwanu Lukman(2X), Edmund Daukoru, and Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo
These Nigerians have merited every achievement they have earned from the international community. They are respected and held in high esteem. However, apart from these ones, in time past, we have had the likes of Emeka Anyaoku, Secretary-General of the Common Wealth; Aruma Oteh, Treasurer and Vice President of the World Bank; and Oby Ezekwesili, Vice President of the World Bank who have all represented Nigeria at the highest level of various multilateral organisations.
Featured Image Source: BBC
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