Brief History Of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala – First Female Finance Minister In Nigeria

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is an economist, author, global finance expert and entrepreneur born on June 13, 1953 in a royal family.

Her father, Chukwuka Okonjo and her mother Kamene Okonjo were both professors at the University of Ibadan. She is from Ogwashi-Ukwu, Delta State where her father is the Obi of the Obahai Royal family.

Ngozi Okonjo had her secondary school at Queen’s school, Enugu, St. Anne’s school, Molete in Ibadan and International School Ibadan. After graduating, she moved to US to study at Harvard University where she graduated with magna cum laude with AB Honors in Economics in 1977.

In 1981, she graduated with PHD in Regional Economics and Development from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She received from the American Association of University Women (AAUW), an International Fellowship.

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo, married to a Neurosurgeon, Dr. Ikemba Iweala, and they both have four children – a daughter and three sons; Onyinye Iweala, Uzodinma Iweala, Okechukwu Iweala and Uchechi Iweala.

She worked as an intern in the World Bank in Washington D.C before returning to work as Development Economist for 25 years before being promoted as the Managing Director where she geared the initiatives in assisting some countries with low incomes during crises in 2008/2009.

She is the head of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization right from 2000 the organization was founded. Dr. Ngozi is the head adviser at Lazard which she joined in 2015 and a Board member of both Standard Chartered PLC and Twitter Incorporation.

She is also part of the Commission on Effective Development and Cooperation installed by Prime Minister of Denmark, Anders Fogh.

Under the regime of President Olusegun Obasanjo, she became the Finance Minister of Nigeria from 2003 – 2006, and was called back in 2011 by President Goodluck Jonathan till 2015.

Through Ngozi Okonjo a negotiation with the Paris Club that saw the erase of the $30 billion and $18 billion debt owed by the Nigerian Government. She revived the Nigeria’s macroeconomic management. 

Dr. Ngozi empowered Nigerian women through an organization; Growing Girls and Women in Nigeria. She also empowered Nigerian youths through Youth Enterprises with Innovation Program by creating job opportunities for them.

She founded the first indigenous opinion research organization in 2006 and partnered with Gallup USA in developing research in the country.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in 2003 published a book dedicated to Chinua AchebeChinua Achebe: Teacher of Light. The Debt Trap in Nigeria: Towards a Sustainable Debt Strategy in 2003.

In 2007, she published Economic Reforms: Progress and Challenges. Transparency and Accountability in the Management of Public Funds, which she wrote in 2011. Reforming the Unreformable in 2012. Shine a Light on the Gaps in 2015. Funding the SDGs in 2016. Fighting Corruption is Dangerous in 2018 and Mobilizing Finance for Education in the Commonwealth. 

She has many honors and awards to her name: 

  • She won both the Minister of the Year from ThisDay and Time Europe Hero in 2004.
  • In 2005, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala won multiple awards like the Global Minister of the year by EuroMoney Magazine, African Minister of the year by Time Magazine and Minister of the year award by ThisDay.
  • In 2011 she won four awards; 100 Women in the World by the Guardian UK Newspaper, Forbes’ 10 Most Influential Women in Africa, Forbes’ 100 Most Powerful Women in the World and 100 Global Thinkers by Foreign Policies.
  • In 2012, she won 100 Global Thinkers by Foreign Policies and Woman of the Year by Silverbird.
  • Forbes’ 100 Most Powerful Women in the World in 2013.
  • Financial Minister of the Year by Africa Investor Magazine, Forbes’ 100 Most Powerful Women in the World, 100 Most Influential People in the World by Time Magazine in 2014.
  • 50 Greatest World Leaders by Fortune Magazine in 2015.
  • Global Fairness Award in 2016 and
  • ASPEN Institute Madeleine Albright she won in 2017.