BY EMEKA EJERE
Nigeria’s nominee for the position of the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has emerged winner of the keenly contested position. .
To emerge the winner, Okonjo- Iweala polled 104 votes from 164 member countries to defeat South Korea’s Minister of Trade Minister, Yoo Myung-Hee.
The official announcement is expected to be made later today by WTO.
Okonjo-Iweala was Nigeria’s finance minister during the tenures of former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan.
She has experience working at international governance bodies as a former managing director of the World Bank and as a chairman at the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization.
Okonjo-Iweala’s success as WTO DG makes her the first African and first female director-general of the international body in its 25-year history.
Okonjo-Iweala had survived first round of voting for the WTO top job, as three candidates are forced out the race last month when 3 candidates were dropped from the race.
For not securing enough support in the first round of voting, Mexico’s Jesus Seade, Egypt’s Hamid Mamdouh, and Moldova’s Tudor Ulianovschi were dropped out of the race.as WTO was looking to reduce the contestants to two final candidates in the coming weeks.
“Their expertise and high professional and personal qualities are highly valued and respected by all members,” WTO General Council Chairman, David Walker, had said in a statement on Friday.
The second phase of consultations had begun on September 24 and run until October 6 after which the WTO announced Okonjo-Iweala and Yoo Myung-Hee.as two final candidates
The Nigerian nominee had also enjoyed very strong supports and endorsements from the European Union, Female Parliamentary Caucus, President Mohammadu Buhari, Africa’s richest man, Alhaji Aliko Dangote and nearly 200 nations across the world.
Minister of state for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mariam Katagum, had recently described Okonjo-Iweala as the best candidate, based on merit, to head WTO as its Director General.
Katagum, who stated this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, argued that the former minister should be elected to head WTO, considering her antecedence, competence and experience.
Katagum, who is the chairperson of the Okonjo-Uweala Campaign Team, said the WTO was facing a lot of problems, adding that a person of Okonjo-Iweala’s standing was required to steer the ship of the organisation.
She said, “We are looking forward for her to be the next D-G of the WTO because she is the best choice for the job.
“The WTO is an organisation that sets up rules for trade, and has trade facilitation and dispute resolution mechanism.
“Being the head of that organisation, you need a lot of experience and negotiation skills, political and economic background to make it work.
“Only a D-G with the requisite political and negotiating skills, coupled with multilateral experience, can ensure deep engagement of the members to restore trust and build a truly efficient organisation.
“In the history of the WTO, there has never been an African male or female that has headed that organisation.
“Secondly, there has never been a woman head. So, again, she will be the first African, the first woman and the first Nigerian to hold the position of the director-general of WTO.”