Nigeria Nominates Okonjo-Iweala to Head WTO


By Adedapo Adesanya

President Muhammadu Buhari has nominated Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the nation’s candidate to be the Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) for the term 2021-2025 at the elections scheduled to hold in Geneva, Switzerland in 2021.

The current Brazilian Director-General of the WTO, Mr Roberto Azevedo, in May said he plans to step down from the 25-year-old WTO at the end of August, a year before his term ends.

He said it’s the best way to avoid more chaos at the organisation, which has already been attacked consistently by US President Donald Trump and the start of a global recession due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Mrs Okonjo-Iweala is a former World Bank executive who negotiated a write-off of Nigeria’s debt in the mid-2000s.

She has served as minister of finance, economy and foreign affairs in Nigeria, and is currently one of the African Union’s special envoys to mobilize international support for the continent’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement addressed to all embassies and permanent missions in Addis Ababa, the federal government also withdrew the candidacy of Mr Yonov Frederick Agah, Nigeria’s permanent representative to WTO, for the same position.

The document stated: “The embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and permanent mission to the African Union (AU) and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) presents compliments to all embassies and permanent missions in Addis Ababa and has the honour to inform that the Federal Government of Nigeria has withdrawn the candidacy of Ambassador Yonov Frederick Agah for election to the position of Director-General of the WTO.

“In this regard, the Mission also wishes to inform that his Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, has approved the nomination of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to replace Ambassador Agah, as Nigeria’s candidacy for the position of the Director-General of the WTO, for the term 2021-2025 at the elections scheduled to hold in Geneva, Switzerland in 2021.

“Nigeria is, therefore, pleased to request the support of esteemed AU member states as well as permanent missions and embassies in Addis Ababa in favour of the candidacy of Okonjo-Iweala.”

She is presently the Chair of the Board of GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance and also sits on the boards of Standard Chartered Plc and Twitter Inc.

She was recently appointed African Union Special Envoy to mobilise international financial support in the fight against COVID-19, as well as Envoy for the World Health Organisation’s access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator.

The Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Ms Kristalina Georgieva, also recently appointed Mrs Okonjo-Iweala, to serve as a member of her newly-established External Advisory Group.

In addition, Mrs Okonjo-Iweala served twice as Nigeria’s Finance Minister, from 2003-2006, 2011-2015 and briefly as Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister in 2006.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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