By Ebunoluwa Sessou
THE journey to the World Trade Organization, WTO, began with eight candidates vying for the daunting position, on June 20, 2020. These contenders were Britain’s first post-Brexit international trade Secretary, Liam Fox, former Saudi economy minister Mohammed al-Tuwaijri and Kenya’s former WTO General Council chair Amina Mohamed. Others were from Egypt, Mexico, Moldova, Nigeria, and South Korea.
Okonjo-Iweala contended with seven others for WTO leadership.
Finally, in February 15, 2021, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was appointed to take the baton of leadership starting from March 1,2021 to head the World Trade Organisation.
Okonjo-Iweala as WTO Leader: What the Governors, other Nigerian leaders are saying
Governor Godwin Obaseki, Edo State
READ ALSO: Okonjo-Iweala as WTO DG
“I felicitate with Dr. Ngozi Okonji-Iweala, former Minister of Finance, on her emergence as the first African and first female Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in its 25-year history.
“Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, a fine economist and international development expert has in time past spearheaded several World Bank initiatives as a former Managing Director (Operations) and possesses a bundle of skills and experience required for this elevated role.
“As a two-time finance minister in Nigeria, Okonjo-Iweala left indelible marks as an astute manager of the nation’s economy and resources.”
Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, Governor of Delta State
“On behalf of all Deltans, I join all Nigerians in congratulating one of our most renowned citizens, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, on her emergence as the next Director-General of the World Trade Organisation.
“Over the years, we have all followed your growth and celebrated your noteworthy achievements. This is why, as you begin your new role at the helm of the WTO, I want you to know that you have the unwavering support of both your home state and your country”.
Hope Uzodimma, Governor, Imo State
“I join Nigerians all over the world to congratulate a distinguished Nigerian, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on her appointment as the next world Trade Organisation, WTO, Director-General.
“Today, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala has made global history as the first woman and first African to lead the international trade body, the WTO. This is indeed a feat we are very proud of.
“Winning the keenly contested position is a testament of doggedness, resilience, and tenacity of the Nigerian Spirit.
“It is my firm belief that she’s equal to the huge tasks ahead which are to reform the WTO, create a fair trade, equal opportunities and prosperity for everyone”.
“I congratulate her once again and cheers to greater heights”.
Speaker House of Reps
Speaker of the Federal House of Representative, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila
“Dr. Okonjo Iweala’s unanimous confirmation by the General Council of the WTO to head the body is a testament to her year of experience in the financial sector both at home and abroad.
“The two–time Finance Minster comes to the office with her wealth of experience that span several decades. Her track records speak volumes.
“With her pedigree, I believe she would take the World Trade Organisation, WTO, to enviable heights during her term as the DG.
“Her confirmation has again proved that Nigeria has experts that can compete favourably both at home and abroad.
“As the first female and first African to head the WTO, the former Finance Minister and an ex-World Bank comes to the office at the right time.
“I wish you a successful tenure in office”.
Eight Candidates for quiz and presentation
The eight candidates were engaged in presentations and quiz on their plans for the global trade body, which was beset with mammoth challenges even before the pandemic-driven global economic crisis struck.
Oct 8, 2020
Okonjo-Iweala: Happy to be in final rounds of WTO DG race
Nigeria’s candidate for the post of Director General WTO, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala scaled through to the final round of voting for the position, as she appreciated Nigerians for their support in twitter handle; “Happy to be in the final round of the WTO DG campaign. Thanks, WTO members for your continued support of my candidacy. I could not have made it without the prayers and support of all Nigerians and friends around the world. Thank you Muhammadu Buhari and all my friends. Aluta continua!”
Feb 4, 2021
Biden’s first foreign policy
In Biden’s first foreign policy speech, he heralded the US’s return to multilateralism and cooperation with its allies most of whom had voted for Okonjo-Iweala at the WTO.
Feb 5, 2021
Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala set for WTO leadership after South Korea’s Yoo quits
Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala became the last woman standing in the race to become the new Director-General of the World Trade Organisation after South Korea’s Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee withdrew Yoo’s decision to withdraw was made in ”close consultation with the United States”.
Feb 6, 2021
Yet another tweet
Okonjo-Iweala tweeted that she looked forward to formalising her accession, suggesting that things may now be moving fast.
I look forward to finalizing the process of @WTO DG. My gratitude to HE @CyrilRamaphosa, all African Heads of State, the AUC Chair. Special thanks to ECOWAS Heads of State for outstanding support. I thank @PressACP, @Miaamormottley, EU, all Officials & Leaders of WTO Members.
15 Feb 2021
Nigeria’s Okonjo-Iweala takes the baton of leadership
Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was appointed to take the baton of leadership starting from March 1, to head the World Trade Organisation.
The 66 years old former Nigeria’s Finance Minister, was appointed Director-General of WTO by representatives of the 164 member countries, according to a statement from the body.