Nigeria’s two-term finance minister (2003-2006 and 2011-2015), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is presently on a hot seat as the United States (US) plans to veto her nomination for the job of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Director General (DG).
Okonjo-Iweala, who was the first female Nigerian foreign Minister (2006), among eight nominees WTO-DG position was shortlisted in the final two.
The race started with Dr Jesús Seade Kuri (Mexico), Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (Nigeria), Mr Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh (Egypt), Mr Tudor Ulianovschi (Moldova), Ms Yoo Myung-hee (Republic of Korea), Ms Amina C. Mohamed (Kenya), Mr Mohammad Maziad Al-Tuwaijri (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia), and Dr Liam Fox (United Kingdom).
Two females, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (Nigeria), and Ms Yoo Myung-hee (Republic of Korea) made the final shortlist; an emergence that indicated that the organisation will for the first time be led by a female candidate, since it was established on 1 January 1995.
Although Okonjo-Iweala gathered lots of support from the body and even WTO itself, the US has appeared to be a hurdle for her as the nation preferred her counterpart, Ms Yoo Myung-hee (Republic of Korea).
In a report by Bloomberg, the Deputy US Trade Representative, Dennis Shea, had purportedly said the nation could not support a consensus decision to appoint Okonjo-Iweala.
Shea said the US disagreed with the way in which the process was being carried out, according to sources.
However, a source at the Nigerian Ministry of Trade and Investment has claimed that the federal government was “aware of USA’s position long before now and we are not folding our hands”.
The source assured that the government was taking steps to prevent America’s opposition from snowballing into adverse swing in the support base for Nigeria’s nominee.
Okonjo-Iweala has so-far received wide support as the best candidate to replace Roberto Azevêdo, the sixth Director-General of the WTO.
She gathered the most vote from the 164 members representing 98 per cent of world trade. Okonjo-Iweala gathered 110 support of the 164.
WTO spokesperson Keith Rockwell had in a tweet said: “the candidate that had the best chance of attaining a consensus of the membership is Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria. Consultations on the way forward will start immediately”.
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