Breaking news: Okonjo-Iweala becomes first female, African WTO DG

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By Anayo Ezugwu

NGOZI Okonjo-Iweala, former minister of finance in Nigeria, has emerged as the new director-general, DG, of the World Trade Organisation, WTO on Wednesday, October 28, in Geneva. With this development, Okonjo-Iweala has made history by becoming the first female, first black and first African to be appointed the DG of WTO in its 25 years of existence.

A source very close to her confirmed the breaking news to Realnews, adding that the official announcement by WTO will be made later in the day.

However, at the close of work today, the WTO did not make the announcement in difference to the United States.

As a last ditch effort, the delegate from the US took to the floor after Realnews published it’s story saying  his country is not going to follow the recommendations of the panel.

But our sources in Geneva insist that the US is the only holdout, with the vast majority of countries including the EU, China and Japan backing the Nigerian candidate.

Okonjo-Iweala bagged the WTO top job after advancing to the final round in the race with Yoo Myung-hee, trade minister in South Korea on Wednesday, October 6.

Realnews had earlier reported that the initial pool of eight candidates for the WTO’s top post,  which was whittled down over two rounds of consultations, had included three Africans from Nigeria, Egypt and Kenya. Her candidacy received a huge boost as the 27-member states of the European Union-backed her for the job over Myung-hee. She had also won the goodwill of a group of Caribbean and Pacific States as well as others from Asia. America, it was gathered, reluctantly supported her candidature at last over its preference for the South Korean.

President Muhammadu Buhari had earlier nominated Okonjo-Iweala for the WTO DG role with the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, later backing her nomination. The 55-member African Union overcame the initial protest from Egypt over late removal of Nigeria’s first nominee who was withdrawn by the Nigerian government to also officially support her candidacy.

Okonjo-Iweala deserved the success she got because she worked and campaigned strategically for it her intimidating curriculum vitae notwithstanding.

Okonjo-Iweala, 66, is an economist and development specialist now serving as board chair of Global Vaccine Alliance Gavi, will replace Roberto Azevedo, former DG, WTO, who stepped down a year earlier than expected in August.

– Oct. 28, 2020 @ 14:55 GMT |

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