Okonjo Iweala, Four Others Cleared in first round Screening for WTO DG Job

Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is still in contention for the now vacant DG office of the World Trade Organization having scaled the first round screening on 18 September which dropped three, leaving five candidates in the race.

A tweet on Friday by the international trade body on its official handle announced that “the five candidates will be moving on for members’ further consideration in the next round of consultations, which resume on 24 September”.

All the initial eight candidates shortlisted were adjudged qualified and were screened in first round on the bases of securing the broadest and deepest support from the WTO membership.

General Council Chair of WTO, David Walker of New Zealand and his two co-facilitators in the selection process said in the tweet “In consultations with Amb. Walker, Amb. Dacio Castillo of Honduras and Amb. Harald Aspelund of Iceland, WTO members indicated that the five candidates who should advance are Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria, Yoo Myung-hee of the Republic of Korea, Amina C. Mohamed of Kenya, Mohammad Maziad Al-Tuwaijri of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and Liam Fox of the United Kingdom.”

And at the completion of this initial screening, Walker said WTO membership considers all the five candidates highly qualified and respected individuals. Adding that the second phase of consultations will begin on September 24 and run till October 6.

Okonjo-Iweala who is a two term Nigeria’s former minister of finance and former Managing Director of the World Bank is passionate about world trade and economy in this pandemic period. She is quoted in her twitter handle as saying “COVID-19 has changed the face of the world economy and thus the WTO needs to work with its members to pull through the difficult times”.

It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had earlier nominated her for the WTO, DG position with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) later backing her nomination.

And since then there has been several other endorsements prominent among these is from the House of Representatives which described her as very qualified for the job of WTO DG.

The resolution to support her followed a motion of urgent public importance raised by the minority leader, Ndudi Elumelu at plenary and urging as well President Buhari to rally other African leaders in support of her candidacy.

Others include former Vice President Atiku Abubakar who said “her experience and the enormous related works she has done confirms without equivocation that her leadership shall be a blessing to the WTO and the world”.


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