FORMER finance minister Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has taken American citizenship as part of her ongoing campaign to become the next director-general of the World Trade organisation (WTO).
Dr Okonjo-Iweala, 66, is one of seven candidates seeking to be named as the next WTO boss later this month, who have all made their case before the general assembly. Rather than an election, the WTO selection procedure relies on finding consensus, with candidates gradually being eliminated in turn.
Facing Dr Okonjo-Iweala is South Korea’s trade minister Yoo Myung-Hee, who is a negotiator, strategist and international trade expert and the UK’s former international trade and defence secretary Dr Liam Fox. Also in the race are Mexican economist Jesús Seade Kuri, Kenya’s Amina Mohamed, Egyptian diplomat Hamid Mamdouh and former Moldovan foreign minister Tudor Ulianovschi.
Educated in the US, Dr Okonjo-Iweala attended Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she obtained a PhD. According to Bloomberg Dr Okonjo-Iweala actually took US citizenship in 2019, being eligible having lived in and out of the country for nearly 30 years.
Most of the other candidates battling for the position of WTO boss have dual citizenship, which experts believe may boost their chances at getting the much-coveted job. It is believed that not having US citizenship affected Dr Okonjo-Iweala’s bid to become World Bank president in 2012 as she was not backed by the US, which supported Korean-American Jim Yong Kim, who eventually got the job.