Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja and Romanus Okoye
The Federal Government, yesterday, said it will continue to engage relevant stakeholders to ensure that the lofty aspiration of the former Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to lead the World Trade Organisation (WTO) is realised.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a statement by its Spokesperson, Ferdinand Nwonye, informed that the third and final round of the selection process of the Director-Generalship of the WTO was concluded on Tuesday, October 27, 2020 and the result was formally announced on Wednesday, October 28, 2020.
Nwonye added that the candidate from Nigeria, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, secured the support of majority of the member countries, but was yet to be declared and returned as winner.
“This is because apart from winning the election, all the 164 member states of WTO are expected to adopt the winner by consensus, in accordance with the rule of procedure of the WTO. It is important to highlight that Dr. Okonjo-Iweala has secured cross-regional backing with only the United States opposing the consensus.
“The Ministry wishes to further inform that a meeting of the General Council of the WTO has been scheduled for November 9, 2020, for a final decision on the election process.
“Nigeria will continue to engage relevant stakeholders to ensure that the lofty aspiration of our candidate to lead the World Trade Organization is realised,” Nwonye said.
Meanwhile, Chairman of African Union, Pan African Private Sector Trade and Investment Committee (PAFTRAC), Professor Pat Utomi has described the possible emergence of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as Director General of World Trade Organisation (WTO) as fantastic.
He said the benefits are multifaceted. “Besides country pride, I think it will place her in a position to help guide the evolution of international trade in a way that will make exchange more just and also facilitate the expansion of participation by African countries,” he said.
“I congratulate her ahead and look forward to WTO extending its current partnership with PAFTRAC and AfreximBank to rapidly grow intra-African trade and aggregation across borders to scale up capacity to meet high volume demands that can be key to competitiveness in international trade.”
In tweet yesterday, Okonjo-Iweala wrote: “Happy for the success & continued progress in our @wto DG bid. Very humbled to be declared the candidate with the largest, broadest support among members & most likely to attract consensus.
The recommendation of Nigeria’s former finance minister was made by three WTO ambassadors, the so-called “troika”, after consulting with members in a series of closed-door meetings in Geneva as part of an intricate and secretive process that some have compared to a papal succession. The troika, led by New Zealand’s Ambassador David Walker, is due to make the formal recommendation to a closed-door meeting of heads of delegations at 3 p.m. (1400 GMT).