Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Thanks President Buhari, ECOWAS


…As WTO DG Race Enters Selection Phase

Ngozi Okonjo–Iweala on Thursday expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly for nominating and supporting her candidacy for Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) position.

“I want to also thank the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu and the Nigerian ambassadors to Switzerland, WTO as well as the Permanent Mission to the UN in Geneva “

Okonjo-Iweala who stated this in an interview with newsmen in Geneva, also thanked ECOWAS for endorsing her candidacy as the race for the WTO Director-General position enters the selection phase.

She is vying for the top job alongside candidates from Kenya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia. UK, Moldova, Mexico and the Republic of Korea.

All the candidates are in Geneva to make presentations to the WTO General Council and address the press from July 15 – 17.

The former finance minister who had previously urged the WTO to elect its Director-General based on merit told newsmen that given her resumè as a development economist, she was best suited for the job.

“People ask me often what best qualifies you for the job- I think the WTO needs leadership, it cannot continue to do what it did before.

“If it’s to stay as one of the premier institutions of the 21st century, it needs strong leadership which is a quality I have.

“It needs knowledge of trade which I have for being a development economist which my entire career is built around. It needs someone with political skills and international connections that can reach policymakers in all countries- and I have that owing my 35 years of experience

“The job needs someone who listens – and I’m a good listener and lastly, someone who is solution-oriented and pragmatic. I have experience in all sectors ranging from the public to private sectors and international civil societies as well as from multilateral organizations.

“If you put all these together, you will see I’m best qualified for the job,” she said.

Newsmen report that the second phase of the selection process, in which candidates would make themselves known to members, will end on September 7. Similarly, the third phase, which is the consultation process, would commence the same day.

At the forthcoming consultation, the Chairman of the General Council alongside Chairs of the Dispute Settlement Body and the Trade Policy Review Body would consult with all the WTO members to determine which candidate is best placed to attract consensus support.

Meanwhile, WTO’s outgoing Director-General, Roberto Azevêdo, would retire in August this year after serving two terms of seven years.