By Victor Ahiuma-Young
More facts have emerged on how the African Union’s candidate for the Director-General, D-G, of International Labour Organisation, ILO, Gilbert Houngbo, a Togolese, was elected the first African D-G of the oldest United Nations Body after 103 years.
Recall Houngbo was Friday March 25, 2022, in Geneva, Switzerland, elected the Director-General of the global body founded in 1919.
In a tension-soaked contest at the 334th session of the ILO Governing Board, the Togolese scored 30 votes to beat his closest rival and former French Labour and Social Development Minister, Ms Muriel Penicaud who scored 23 votes, while the former Korean Foreign Minister Kyang-wha Kang came a distant 3rd with two votes.
Nigeria’s Labour and Employment Minister, Senator Chris Ngige who led African Regional Government to the election described the victory as “unprecedented and sweet for Africa.” It was gathered that Senator Ngige led the African lobby for Houngbo when no clear winner emerged in the first round of voting.
With this development, Houngbo becomes the third African to occupy the Director- Generalship/Chief Executive of a United Nations’ body after World Health Organisation’s Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus of Ethiopia and Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo Iweala of the World Trade Organization, WTO.
In his post-election congratulatory speech on behalf of Nigeria, Ngige said the victory of the African was a sort of home coming, Houngbo having served successfully as the Deputy Director-General of the organisation.
According to him: “I’m confident he will use his wealth of experience to uplift the organisation and do Africa and ECOWAS proud. I recall that while he visited Nigeria on February 26, 2022 to canvass for votes, I assured that Africa was in the race to win and we have won.”
The new D-G will resume office on October 1, 2022 from the current D-G, Guy Ryder, from the United Kingdom, who has been in office since 2012.