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Okonjo-Iweala excited by US support, edges closer to WTO job

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NGOZI Okonjo-Iweala, former Nigeria’s finance minister, has expressed excitement over the backing she got from the United States to lead the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

This is coming shortly after the US government led by Joe Biden and Kamala Harris endorsed her for the top job.

Okonjo-Iweala made this known through her Twitter handle on Friday night, commending President Muhammadu Buhari and Nigerians for their support.

“Grateful for the expression of support from the US today for DG @WTO. Congratulations to Madam Yoo of Rep. Korea for a hard fought campaign. Thank You President Muhammadu Buhari @MBuhari &all Nigerians for your unflinching support. Thank you friends. Love to my family.Glory to God,” she tweeted.

Buhari had, sometime in October 2020, assured Okonjo-Iweala that he would do all within his power to ensure that she became director-general of the WTO.

According to the statement by the US Trade Representative office on Friday, Okonjo Iweala received what the US government expressed as a ‘strong support.’

READ ALSOWHO counters report that Nigeria, others disqualified from receiving COVID-19 vaccines

The statement cited her ‘wealth of knowledge in economics and international diplomacy’ and ‘proven experience managing a large international organisation’ as big assets.

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It will be recalled that The ICIR had earlier reported that Iweala’s opponent Yoo Myung-hee withdrew her bid to lead the WTO, paving the way for Okonjo-Iweala to be in pole position to land the top job as the only remaining candidate.

Yoo, who is the current minister of the South Korean Ministry, issued her withdrawal in a statement endorsed by the South Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy on Friday.

According to the statement, “The United States takes note of today’s decision by the Republic of Korea’s Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee to withdraw her candidacy for Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

“The Biden-Harris Administration is pleased to express its strong support for the candidacy of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-lweala as the next Director General of the WTO.

“Dr. Okonjo-Iweala brings a wealth of knowledge in economics and international diplomacy from her 25 years with the World Bank and two terms as Nigerian Finance Minister.

“She is widely respected for her effective leadership and has proven experience managing a large international organization with a diverse membership.”

If Okonjo-Iweala emerges as WTO DG, it means that she would not only be the first African to hold the seat but also the first woman to ever become the DG of the 164-member organisation.

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Once confirmed by the WTO, Okonjo-Iweala is expected to lead the WTO from 2021 to 2025.

Author profile

Abeeb Alawiye formerly works with The ICIR as a Reporter/Social Media officer. Now work as a Senior Journalist with BBC News Yoruba. You can shoot him an email via Abeeb.alawiye@bbc.co.uk or follow him on Twitter @habsonfloww

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