Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo To Become Director-General of WTO


On 9th June 2020, Nigeria nominated Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for the post of WTO Director-General. Mr. Roberto Azevêdo, the former director-general announced he would resign on 31 August 2020. Dr. Okojo is a development economist and a former two-time finance minister of Nigeria.

Why is She The Best Candidate for Director-General Position?

Even though many potential candidates, for instance, Kenya’s Amina Mohammed, Dr. Okonjo is the strongest African candidate for this position. She has 30 years of development and financial expertise. Through working under the World Bank for 25 years, she managed to rise to the second top position and lasted for 4 years.

Dr. Okonjo was the first woman to become minister of foreign affairs and finance in Nigeria two times. As a minister, she spearheaded negotiations with the Paris Club of Creditors thus managed to clear Nigeria’s debt of $30bn. During her second term, she led reforms that improved government transparency that bolstered institutions against corruption. Her prowess to influence government and international decisions makes her a suitable candidate for the position. Also, she has formulated life-changing reforms that have contributed to the growth of Nigeria.

At first, President Buhari had nominated Ambassador Yonov Frederick Agah, then changed it to Dr. Okonjo. Ibrahim Gambari, the chief of staff, stated that with Dr. Okonjo, Nigeria had a chance of leading international institutions.

Dr. Okonjo has support from the World Bank, especially as for a long time she has patronized Akinwumi Adesina, of African Development Bank. It’s however quite challenging to unite countries to elect one representative. Moreso currently China and the US have differences since they are having a hard time solving their problems.

The Finals

It is the first time the WTO has granted women the position of director-general. Two candidates, the South Korean trade minister, and Nigeria’s former finance minister qualified to the finalists. Other viable contestants like Amina, Maziad, and Liam were all eliminated. In the first round, the board trimmed the list of 8 candidates to 5, and currently, they are only two.

The people anticipate the winner will be out in early November. The resignation of the former director-general surprised many. He said he had quit because of personal reasons. During Acevedo’s 7 year reign, he received pressure from President Trump. The latter accused the World Trade Organization of treating the US unfairly and starting a trade war with China. Since the creation of the WTO, no woman has had the opportunity to stand for the post.

Many sources revealed that the EU voted for her to get the job. However, the authorities in charge have not made the final decision yet. The 27 EU member states conducted a meeting on Monday where they expressed their preference for Dr. Okonjo.

A dozen others who initially opted for South Korea were ready to change their decision in favor of Nigeria. However, Hungary and the Baltic state refused to join the majority. The next director-general of the WTO will have to solve the economic crisis of the trade war between the top world economic powers, China, and the United States.



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