By Johnbosco Agbakwuru – Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday promised to contact world leaders for their support for the victory of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who is contesting for the position of Director-General of the World Trade Organization, WTO.
President Buhari, who made the promise when he met behind closed doors with Dr Okonjo-Iweala at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, assured her that the country will explore every opportunity and deploy its entire energy to ensure that she becomes the DG of WTO.
Dr Okonjo-Iweala is one of the two candidates finally shortlisted to contest for the position of Director General of the World Trade Organization, WTO which is expected to take place very soon.
She was accompanied to the President’s office by the Minister of State, Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubairu Dada, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo and the Minister of State, Industry, Trade and Investment, Mariam Katagu
She was a former Managing Director (Operations) of the World Bank and Nigeria’s Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
In a statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, President Buhari said Dr Okonjo-Iweala deserved more support to get the top job because of her profile and diligence in serving the country, and the world.
According to him, “I assure you that we will do all that we can to ensure that you emerge as the Director-General of WTO, not only because you are a Nigerian, but because you are a hardworking Nigerian. You deserve this.”
Assuring the world-class economist that he would make more phone calls, and send letters to some world leaders for more support, the President said, “I did the same for Dr Akinwunmi Adesina for President of the African Development Bank. Both of you served the country under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“You are both highly qualified. We will continue to support you. I will immediately make those calls.”
In her remarks, Dr Okonjo-Iweala, a renowned development economist, thanked the President and his ministers, particularly the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, and Ministers of Industry, Trade and Investment for supporting her staunchly.
“I feel very proud of Nigeria. I am getting so much support from you, Mr President, Chief of Staff, Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Ministers of Industry, Trade and Investments.
“The ministers have been working around the clock to ensure that I succeed,’’ she said.
The former Minister of Finance also appreciated ECOWAS leaders for their endorsement, mentioning, in particular, the outstanding contributions of President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger Republic and immediate past Chairman of ECOWAS as well as President Alhassan Quattara of Cote d’Ivoire.
She asked the President to “make one final push within the week to beat the Koreans and bring this to Nigeria by sending a few letters and placing telephone calls to some world leaders, and also thank others for their support.’’
“Mr President, put a smile on my face,’’ she said, “I am very proud of the country.’’