WTO DG: ECOWAS Endorses Okonjo-Iweala, Seeks Africa, Others’ Support

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Outilines reasons she’s the best

Edozie Udeojo,Abuja

The Heads of State and Governments of the 15 Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have endorsed the candidature of Nigeria’s two-term former minister and erstwhile Managing Director (Operations) of the World Bank, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, for the position of the Director General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The tenure of the new World Trade Organisation Director General will be between 2021 – 2025.

The West African leaders made their position known in a statement signed by President of Niger, who is also ECOWAS President, Mahamadou Issoufou.

In the statement dated June 19, 2020, that was obtained by THISDAY on Monday, they also called on other African countries as well as non-African countries to endorse her candidature for the plum job.

“Since the creation of the WTO on January 1, 1995, which is a successor to the General Agreement on Tariff and Trade (GATT) established on January 1, 1948, no African has assumed the position of Director-General of the organisation,” they added.

The WTO had publicized the process for the appointment with the opening and closing dates of nominations set as 8 June and 8 July 2020 respectively.

ECOWAS acknowledged “the strong academic and professional background of Dr Okonjo-lweala and her very large experience in national affairs as Nigeria’s Finance Minister (2003-2006 and 2011-2015) and Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister briefly in 2006”.

Issoufou explained that ECOWAS considered her “long years of managerial experience at the top echelons of multilateral institutions, her established reputation as a fearless reformer, her excellent negotiating and political skills, her experience of over 30 years as a Development Economist with a long-standing interest in trade”.

ECOWAS disclosed that the leadership also took into account “her excellent academic qualifications, her positions as Managing Director World Bank, and currently as Board Chair Gavi, and African Union Special Envoy to Mobilize Financial Resources for the fight against COVID-19”.

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