As Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala battles to win the contest for the director general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Nigeria’s House of Representatives has endorsed the candidacy of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala for the position as the only Nigerian representative.
Iweala will be battling with seven other contestants from countries other than Nigeria. They are Dr. Jesús Seade Kuri from Mexico; Mr. Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh from Egypt; Mr. Tudor Ulianovschi from Moldova; Ms Yoo Myung-hee from Republic of Korea; Ms. Amina C. Mohamed from Kenya; Mr. Mohammad Maziad Al-Tuwaijri from Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Dr. Liam Fox from United Kingdom.
The eight candidates were nominated by their respective governments to contest for the position of the director general of the organization. The nomination was sequel to the announcement of the incumbent director general’s stepping down on August 31, 2020.
Following the nomination of Okonjo, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, representing Aniocha/Oshimili, on Tuesday, July 14, 2020 moved a motion for the endorsement of Okonjo Iweala as candidate for the WTO DG at the House plenary.
In adopting the motion, the House commended ECOWAS Authority of Heads of States and Governments for their endorsement of the candidate of the former Nigeria Finance Minister, while urging President Mohammadu Buhari to further rally other African leaders to support her bid as the Director General of WTO.
The House of Representatives also called on the Pan African parliament to follow suit by way of endorsing the candidate of Dr. Okonjo-Iweala and equally urged the Federal Government of Nigeria to interface with the Government of Egypt and Kenya with a view to stepping down their candidates in the spirit of African oneness and reciprocity.
Moving the motion, Hon Elumelu recalled that via the Marrakesh Agreement of 15th April, 1994, which was signed by 123 nations, the WTO came into existence, replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, GATT. He noted that on January 1, 1995, the agreement came into force with a mission to regulate international trades in goods, services and intellectual property between participating countries, by providing a framework for negotiating trade agreements and a dispute resolution process, aimed at enforcing the adherence of participants to their agreements.
“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 8th June 2020 and closing date for 8th July 2020.
“A distinguished Nigerian, two-time 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 to vie for the exalted position of the Director-General of the WTO for the period of 2021-2025, and if successful, will be the first female and first African to have occupied the office.
“President Buhari, having put into consideration her outstanding academic and professional background as well as her long years of managerial experience at the top echelons of multilateral institutions, her reputation as a fearless reformer and excellent negotiator, graciously endorsed her as the nation’s candidate for the WTO job.
“COVID-19 pandemic at hand and many countries faced with difficult choices and critical moments, the WTO has a vital 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 for the 21st century. There is no gainsaying therefore, that Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has the requisite capacity and experience to handle the challenges of WTO at this critical moment.
“Concerned that Africa, aside Dr Iweala, has two other candidates from Egypt and Kenya, entering the race with three candidates from the continent will split Africa’s votes, which may spell doom for the very bright chances of Dr Iweala, therefore the urgent need to reach out to the governments of Egypt and Kenya on the need to step down their candidates.
“Recall that in 2015, Nigeria and Kenya established a joint commission for cooperation; also recall how Nigeria in the past strongly supported the candidature of late Boutros Boutros Ghali, an Egyptian national, to become the Secretary General of the United Nations. This is a good time to implement the cooperation and reciprocate the past gesture by both nations respectively.
“Having a Nigerian as the Director General of the World Trade Organization will further enhance the image of the country amongst the committee of Nations, hence the need to massively support this bid,” Hon Ndudi Elumelu stated.
The motion which was unanimously adopted was seconded simultaneously by Hon. Prince Cornelius Nnaji, representing Enugu/Isi-Uzo Federal Constituency and Hon Babajimi Benson, representing Ikorodu Federal Constituency