The West African Regional political and economic block, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), has announced the backing of the candidature of Nigeria’s former Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, as the Director-General of World Trade Organization (WTO).
In a possible step towards uniting Africa behind her candidature, ECOWAS has called on other African countries to support her as well.
According to a press statement by Nigeria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and signed by its spokesperson, Ferdinand Nwonye, ‘’The Minister of Foreign Affairs wishes to inform that the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government has endorsed the candidature of Dr, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for the position of Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) for the period 2021-2025.’’
‘’The ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government endorsed the candidature of Nigeria noting, her long years of managerial experience at the top echelon of multilateral institutions, her reputation as a fearless reformer, her excellent negotiating and political skills, her experience of over 30 years as a developmental economist with a long-standing interest in trade, her excellent academic qualification, her position as Managing Director World Bank, and currently as Board Chair, Gavi, and AU Special Ebnoy to mobilize financial resources for the fight against COVID-19.’’
The regional body noted that since the creation of WTO on January 1, 1995, no African country has been appointed the Director-General of the organization.
The ECOWAS Chairman, who also doubles as the President of Niger Republic, in a signed document, asked other African and non-African countries to endorse her candidature.
Nairametrics had earlier reported the nomination of Okonjo-Iweala by President Muhammadu Buhari, as the head of WTO, following the announcement of the stepping down of the current Director-General of WTO, Roberto Azevedo, on August 2020, a year ahead of the end of his tenure.
However, Egypt, in an opposition to the move, asked that Nigeria’s nomination should be disqualified as it came after the nomination process has elapsed. Egypt claimed that the African Union Executive had set November 30, 2019, as the deadline for submission of nominees for African countries as against June that Nigeria submitted.
But the WTO, in a press statement said that the nomination period for the position actually opened on June 8, 2020, and should be ending on July 8, 2020.