Twitter Has A New Board Member, A Nigerian Icon With Tons Of Experience In Crisis Control

Written by Dana Sanchez

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is one of two new members appointed to Twitter’s board of directors, and she’ll bring experience in crisis control to the endeavor as one of Africa’s longest-­serving finance ministers in a notoriously corrupt administration.

Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey announced the new appointments at 5:20 p.m. Thursday on — you guessed it — Twitter.

Okonjo-Iweala served two stints as Nigeria’s Minister of Finance — from July 2003 to June 2006 and 2011 to 2015.

“Her work was as much about …. conducting crisis management and fending off vested interests targeting the Treasury as it was about a traditional finance minister’s duties,” Patrick Smith wrote in The Africa Report.

Since 2015, Okonjo-Iweala has served as a senior advisor to Lazard, Ltd., a global financial advisory and asset management firm, Twitter said in a press release. Okonjo-Iweala also held several positions at the World Bank, most recently as managing director from December 2007 to August 2011. She has been a member of the board of directors of Standard Chartered, a multinational banking and financial services company, since November 2017. She earned a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor of arts from Harvard University.

Twitter's new board member
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, then managing director of the World Bank, speaks during a news conference in Tirana, Jan. 10, 2011. Photo: AP

Okonjo-Iweala served four years as coordinating Minister of the Economy under President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, which was riddled with scandals including missing oil money and fraudulent arms contracts.

Why would a board member with experience in crisis control benefit Twitter?

“Since 2016, nonstop reports of bots, trolls and Russian-bought political ads running amok on social media have forced tech companies …  to pull back the curtain on how they handle ads and user data — and scramble to run damage control,” Annie Gaus reported for The Street. “Last Friday, 12 Russian agents were indicted for hacking and other efforts to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”

An author, Okonjo-Iweala’s latest book is called “Fighting Corruption is Dangerous.”

As a champion in the fight against corruption, Okonjo-Iweala is in the company of other African leaders who received death threats for trying to challenge their governments — like South Africa’s Thuli Madonsela, Kenya’s John Githongo, Nigeria’s Nuhu Ribadu, and Sierra Leone’s Abdul Tejan-Cole.

In a prepared statement, Okonjo-Iweala talked about Twitter as a force for good.

“Twitter is a powerful platform that continues to be used as a strong connector for the global community, and I’m thrilled to be a part of the team,” said Dr. Okonjo-Iweala. “As we strive to build a better world for tomorrow, Twitter can amplify messages and drive critical conversations around today’s most important issues. I look forward to partnering with Twitter’s talented directors and leadership team as we work to leverage the power of Twitter for good.”

Twitter board member Marjorie Scardino will be stepping down at the end of the year. In addition to Okonjo-Iweala, Robert Zoellick appointed to Twitter’s board — both as new independent directors, effective immediately, Twitter reported.