Nigeria: WTO - House Backs Okonjo-Iweala, Urges Buhari to Step Up Mobilisation

15 July 2020

Abuja — The House of Representatives yesterday endorsed the candidature of former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, for the position of the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The lawmakers urged President Muhammadu Buhari to continue to rally other African leaders to support her bid and asked the Pan African Parliament to follow suit.

The House also commended the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Authority of Heads of State and Governments for endorsing Okonjo-Iweala's candidacy.

It called on the federal government to interface with the governments of Egypt and Kenya to step down their candidates in the spirit of African oneness and reciprocity.

These resolutions followed the adoption of a motion of urgent public importance sponsored by the House Minority Leader, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu.

Moving the motion, Elumelu noted that the chairman of the General Council of 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 for July 8, 2020.

He said the House was aware that 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-Iweala, had been formally nominated by 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 the first African to have occupied the office.

He said it was the perfect time for Africa to assume leadership of the WTO and all concerned stakeholders must unanimously commit to achieving this.

"Aside Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Africa has two other candidates from Egypt and Kenya and entering the race with three candidates from Africa will split Africa's votes, which cripples the prospect of an African assuming the WTO position. 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-Iweala.

"In the past, Nigeria has staunchly supported the candidatures of other Africans to leadership position at multilaterals, including the candidacy of the late Boutros Boutros Ghali, an Egyptian national, to become the Secretary-General of the United Nations. A good turn deserves another and we must now unite the African continent and ensure cooperation amongst our countries to put the continent first," he said.

The lawmaker added that having a Nigerian as the Director-General of the WTO will further enhance the image of the country amongst the comity of nations, hence the need to massively support Okonjo-Iweala.

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