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Why ECOWAS endorsed Okonjo-Iweala for WTO post- Foreign Affairs Ministry

The Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs says Ngozi-Okonjo Iweala, a former Minister of Finance would be the first African to occupy the position of Director General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) if elected.

The ministry in a statement issued in Abuja on Monday by Ferdinand Nwonye, its spokesperson said this is one of the reasons the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) has endorsed her for the position.

While announcing the endorsement of candidature of Okonjo-Iweala by the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government for the position which runs from 2021-2025, the ministry noted that no African has assumed the position of Director General of the organisation.

“The apex body noted that since the creation of WTO on January 1, 1995, which is a successor to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GAAT) established on January 1, 1948, no African has assumed the position of Director General of the WTO,” the statement read.

According to the statement, the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government backed her candidature citing her long years of managerial experience at the top echelon of multilateral institutions, established reputation as a fearless reformer, her negotiating and political skills.

It added that her over 30 years as a development economist with long standing interest in trade, excellent academic qualifications, her positions as managing director World bank, and currently a board chair at Gavi, and AU special envoy to mobilize financial resources for the fight against COVID-19 make her the perfect candidate for the period of 2021-2025.

The ECOWAS therefore called on other African and non-African countries  to support Okonjo-Iweala’s candidature.

It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had earlier in the month nominated Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the Nigerian candidate for the position.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, was nominated as the candidate for the job of Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, following the abrupt resignation of Roberto Azevêdo.

She was nominated by the president to replace Yonov Frederick Agah, Nigeria’s permanent representative at the WTO, and a deputy director-general for the organisation who was earlier nominated for the post.

With Kenya already touting Amina Mohamed as a candidate – a very strong contender given she nearly got the role last time – Egypt’s chance of grabbing the top position for its own Abdel Hamid Mamdou, makes it an even tougher race with Okonjo-Iweala now in the running.

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