Uche Usim, Abuja
Former Finance Minister, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is basking in robust support from Africa and beyond as she takes giant strides to realising her dream of becoming the next Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO).Running on a mandate that seeks to champion a cocktail of reforms to revamp the ailing organization, Okonjo-Iweala currently has all Africa behind her.
Speaking at a virtual media briefing earlier on Friday, Okonjo-Iweala said: “I feel the wind behind my back. All African countries are getting behind me”.The 55-member African Union officially supported her over her sole contender, Yoo Myung-hee of South Korea.
She added that a group of Caribbean and Pacific States were also queuing behind her, bringing the number of countries officially endorsing her candidacy to 79 out of the 164 states that make up the WTO.
She also said she felt “optimistic” about her support in Latin America, adding that she had gotten “very good traction and good support” in Asia so far.
“I feel quite confident that across the regions, we will be able to attract” support, Okonjo-Iweala added while hinting that the European Union was due to announce its preference of the last two candidates soon.
President Muhammadu Buhari while hosting Okonjo-Iweala in Aso Rock assured her of his robust support. Okonjo-Iweala, 66, boasts of shimmering credentials.
She is Nigeria’s first female Finance and Foreign Affairs Minister and boasts of a 25-year career, including being a former Managing Director of the World Bank.
The WTO is set to break a 25-year-old jinx as it would be led by a woman for the first time. WTO is an intergovernmental organization which regulates international trade. The WTO officially commenced on 1 January 1995 under the Marrakesh Agreement, signed by 123 nations on 15 April 1994, replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which commenced in 1948.