Okonjo-Iweala Tells the WTO: I’m the Woman for This Job



The sudden resignation of Roberto Azevêdo as the Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) has opened a race among the member states seeking to replace him, with Nigeria proposing the former two-time Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala candidature for the post.

The position will be vacant in August following Brazilian Director-General Roberto Azevedo’s decision to step down at the helm a year before his term ends. He claims his decision to down the tools has been informed by constant chaos synonymous with the organisation, with US President Donald Trump continually attacking the organisation.

Even though Ngozi’s nomination is marred with controversies, with Yonov Frederick Agah having been proposed earlier by President Muhammadu Buhari, many believe her entry to the race is set to change the tides.

This is the first time Africa has extended the olive branch to lead the World Trade Organization, with many African states proposing their candidates, including Kenya’s Amina Mohamed. Though he is also a strong candidate, Okonjo-Iweala’s track record makes her the strongest African candidate.

While launching her bid on Tuesday, Okonjo-Iweala made it clear that her experience will play a vital role in bringing in new ideas to the organisation if she wins the seat.

“My name is Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and I’m the woman for this job, I want to bring a fresh pair of eyes and ears to the WTO and make it fit to thrive for the 21st century,” she said.

The internationally accomplished economist and development guru in her bid acknowledged the challenges the world is facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying the virus has changed the face of the global economy.

“This is a critical moment for world trade, and the World Trade Organization has a vital role to play,” she said, adding that it is a perfect “time to come together.”

(This article first appeared in The West African Times)