By Adedapo Adesanya
**Urges Egypt, Kenya to Drop Candidates
The House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a resolution, giving their support to former Minister of Finance, Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, as she aims for the post of Director-General of World Trade Organisation (WTO) next month.
The motion to back the former finance minister and one-time Managing Director of the World Bank was moved by the Minority Leader of the House, Mr Ndudi Godwin Elumelu (People’s Democratic Party – Delta State).
In his motion titled In Support for Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), he stated that it was only right for Mrs Okonjo-Iweala to get the legislature’s backing after she had been formally nominated by the Federal Republic of Nigeria to “vie for the position of the Director-General of the WTO for the period of 2021 – 2025 and if successful will be the first female and first African to have occupied the office”.
He said, “President Buhari having put into consideration her outstanding academic and professional background, as well as, her long years of managerial experience at the top echelons of multilateral institutions, her reputation as a fearless reformer and excellent negotiator graciously endorsed her as the nation’s candidate for the WTO job”.
According to him, “With the COVID-19 pandemic at hand and many countries faced with difficult choices and critical moments, the WTO has a vital role to play in hunting for trade solutions and building trust amongst member states.
“Hence the need for a capable hand that can make the WTO fit to thrive in the 21st century, there is no gainsay that Dr Ngozi Okonjo-lweala has the requisite capacity and experience to handle the challenges of WTO at this critical moment”.
He said it was, “The perfect time for Africa to assume leadership at the WTO and all concerned stakeholders, must unanimously commit to achieving this”.
He then expressed concerns that apart from Mrs Okonjo-lweala, Africa has two other candidates from Egypt and Kenya also in the race for the plum job.
He said that with three candidates from Africa, the continent’s votes will be split, a move he said can cripple the prospect of a United African front for the WTO position.
He called on the House to urgently reach out to the governments of Egypt and Kenya on the need to rally round a single candidate for the continent in the person of Mrs Okonjo-lweala.
He recalled that, “In the past, Nigeria has staunchly supported the candidatures of other Africans to the leadership position at multilaterals, including the candidacy of late Boutros Boutros Ghali, an Egyptian national, to become the Secretary-General of the United Nations,” adding that, “A good turn deserves another and we must now unite the African continent and ensure cooperation amongst our countries to put the continent first”.
According to him, “Having a Nigerian as the Director-General of the World Trade Organization, will further enhance the image of the country amongst the comity of Nations, hence the need to massively support this bid”.
The motion found support from the Speaker of the lower chamber, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, as the House resolved to unanimously endorse the candidature of Mrs Okonjo-Iweala for the position.
They commended the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)’s Authority of heads of states and governments for their strong endorsement and urge the President to further rally other African leaders to support her bid as the Director-General of WTO.
The lower legislative arm of government also urged the pan African parliament to follow suit, as it also urged the federal government to discuss with the governments of Egypt and Kenya to step down their candidates in the spirit of African oneness and reciprocity.
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