Uche Usim, Abuja
Former Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo- Iweala on Friday expressed concerns over an alleged gang up by prominent Nigerians to scuttle her chances of becoming the next Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) by 2021.
Those playing the spoiler, according to her, are working frantically to sabotage her ongoing campaign for the plum job.
The former Minister, in a statement on Friday signed by her Media Adviser, Mr Paul Nwabuikwu, noted that the wrecking gang and their collaborators have consistently peddled outright lies in a grand design to create a non-existent scandal to tarnish her image.
The statement read; “It has come to our attention that there is an ongoing effort by some well-connected Nigerians to sabotage the campaign of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the country’s candidate for Director-General of the World Trade Organization.
“As part of this campaign, these persons and their cohorts are peddling outright lies and distortions designed to invent a non-existent ‘scandal’ in order to paint the candidate and her campaign in negative light.
“An example of this is the effort to misrepresent the Campaign’s relationship with Mercury Communications, one of the organizations and individuals that have done voluntary, pro bono work for the Campaign”.
Already, Okonjo-Iweala has secured the blessings of the 15 Heads of State and Governments that make up the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to vie for the position of the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
The endorsement was contained in a statement dated June 19 and signed by the ECOWAS President and President of Niger, Mr Mahamadou Issoufou.
President Muhammadu Buhari, on 9 June, 2020, nominated her for for the post of WTO Director-General to succeed the current Director-General, Mr Roberto Azevêdo, who has announced he will step down on 31 August 2020″.
Okonjo-Iweala’s endorsement by President Buhari to head the WTO did not come without some push back within Africa.
Egypt, on June 9, announced its disapproval, arguing that the executive decision of the African Union (AU) which had set a deadline of November 30, 2019 for African countries to nominate candidates had been violated.
It further claimed that Okonjo-Iweala’s nomination was late and should be totally rejected and not honoured.
In puncturing Egypt’s argument, the WTO said that nominations were still open till July 8, 2020.