FORMER Nigerian finance minister Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is hopeful of being elected as the next director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) after President Muhammadu Buhari nominated her for the position yesterday.
Dr Okonjo-Iweala, 65, currently sits on the boards of several international organisations and once sought to become the World Bank president. Given her international pedigree and chances of getting elected, President Buhari decided to withdraw the candidacy of Yonov Agah, Nigeria’s permanent representative to WTO, for the same position and submit that of Dr Okonjo-Iweala instead.
WTO delegates are due to elected a new director-general when they meet in Geneva, Switzerland in 2021. For a four-year term that would run from 2021 to 2025, they will elect a new to replace Roberto Azevedo, who stood down a year to the end of his second term.
President Buhari’s letter read: “The embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and permanent mission to the African Union (AU) and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa present 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embassies and permanent missions in Addis Ababa and has the honour to inform that the Federal Government of Nigeria has withdrawn the candidacy of Ambassador Yonov Frederick Agah for election to the position of director-general of the World Trade Organisation. 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.”
Mr Agah is Nigeria’s permanent representative to the WTO and the organisation’s deputy director-general. Dr Okonjo-Iweala on the other hand currently chairs the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, a public-private global health partnership with the goal of increasing access to immunisation in poor countries.
She also sits on the board of Twitter and is a former managing director at the World Bank. Earlier this year, she was appointed by the AU as special envoy to solicit international support to help the continent deal with the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.