NIGERIA has scaled the first hurdle in the bid to clinch the position of the director general of the World Trade Organisation, WTO. The WTO on Tuesday, June 9, accepted the nomination of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former Nigerian finance minister, as one of the candidates for the office of the director-general of the organisation.
WTO acknowledged on its website that “Nigeria, on 9 June, 2020, nominated Okonjo-Iweala for the post of WTO Director-General to succeed Roberto Azevêdo, current Director-General, who has announced he will step down on 31 August 2020.”
Realnews reports that President Muhammadu Buhari wrote African Union, AU, on June 4, informing it of the withdrawal of his first nominee, Ambassador Yonov Frederick Agah and replaced him with Okonjo-Iweala for the World Trade Organisation, WTO, top job.
However, Egypt which also had a candidate in the race pointed out that the executive decision of the AU which had set a deadline of November 30, 2019, for African countries to nominate candidates had elapsed, urging the regional body not to recognise Okonjo-Iweala because of late nomination.
Realnews reports that Roberto Azevêdo, current WTO director-general, announced he will step down on August 31, 2020.
David Walker, chair of the General Council, announced that the nomination period will close on July 8, 2020, according to a statement on the WTO website said.
“Shortly after the nomination period has closed, candidates will be invited to meet with members at a special General Council meeting, present their views and take questions from the membership.”
An economic, finance and trade expert, Okonjo-Iweala was also the former foreign affairs minister in Nigeria and the managing director of the World Bank Group.
At present, she is the chairperson of African Risk Capacity, ARC, and Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizarion, GAVI, She is also a member of the Boards of Standard Chartered Bank and Twitter. The AU also recently appointed her an envoy on the regional body’s COVID-19 response. Okonjo-Iweala is also a member of the economic advisory committee of South Africa.