Nigerian House of Reps endorses Okonjo-Iweala for WTO Director-General

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

The Nigerian House of Representatives has unanimously endorsed the candidature of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for the position of the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation for 2021 to 2025.

This was sequel to a unanimous adoption of a motion by the Minority Leader of the House, Ndudi Elumelu (PDP-Delta), at the plenary on Tuesday.

Moving the motion earlier, Elumelu said that the WTO came into existence on April 15, 1994 following the treaty signed by 123 nations, replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).

He said that on Jan. 1, 1995 the agreement came into force with a mission of regulating International trades in goods, services and intellectual property between participating countries.

The rep said the was saddled with the responsibility of providing a framework for negotiating trade agreements and a dispute resolution process aimed at enforcing the adherence of participants to their agreements.

Elumelu said that the Chairman of the General Council of the WTO has announced the commencement of the process to replace the outgoing Director-General Roberto Azevedo with the opening date for nomination set at June 8, 2020 and closing date of July 8, 2020.

According to the minority leader, a distinguished Nigerian, two term minister of finance, one time minister of foreign affairs and former managing director of the World Bank Dr Ngozi Okonjo-lweala has been formally nominated by the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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The lawmaker said that if successful, Okonkwo-Iweala will be the first female and first African to have occupied the office.

“President Muhammadu Buhari having put into consideration her outstanding academic and professional background as well as her long years of managerial experience at the top of multilateral institutions, her reputation as a fearless reformer and excellent negotiator graciously endorsed her as the nations candidate for the WTO job.

“With the COViD-19 pandemic at hand and many countries faced with difficult choices and critical moments, the WTO has a vitai role to play in hunting for trade solutions and building trust amongst member states.

“Hence the need for a capable hand that can make the WTO fit to thrive tor the 21st century, there is no gainsay that Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-lweolo has the requisite capacity and experience to handle the challenges of WTO at this

“It is the perfect time for Africa to assume leadership at the WTO and all concerned stakeholders must unanimously commit to achieving this,” he said.

Elumelu said that aside Dr Ngozi Okonjo-lweala, Africa has two other candidates from Egypt and Kenya  and that entering the race with three candidates, it will split Africa’s votes.

According to him, it crippies the prospect of an African assuming the WTO position and therefore, we must urgently reach out to the Governments of Egypt and Kenya on the need to rally round a single candidate for the continent in the person of Dr. Okonjo-lweala.

He recalled that Nigeria had staunchly supported the candidatures of other Africans to leadership position at multilaterals, including the candidacy of Late Boutros Boutros Ghali an Egyptian national to become the Secretary General of the United Nations.

Elumelu said that a good turn deserves another saying that Africa must now unite and ensure cooperation among countries to put the continent first.

The green chambers commended the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of States and Governments for their strong endorsement.

The lower chambers urged Buhari and the Pan African parliament to further rally other African leaders to support her bid as the Director General of WTO.

The house recommended that the Federal Government interfaces with the governments of Egypt and Kenya to step down their candidates in the spirit of African oneness and reciprocity.