Buhari nominates Okonjo-Iweala for WTO DG position

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President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the nomination of Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, former coordinating minister for the economy, for the position of director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

In a document, Buhari withdrew the candidacy of Yonov Frederick Agah, Nigeria’s permanent representative to WTO, for the same position.

The election is scheduled to hold in Geneva, Switzerland in 2021 for a four-year term that would run from 2021 to 2025 after Roberto Azevedo, former director-general of the organisation stepped down a year to the end of his second term.

“The embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and permanent mission to the African Union (AU) and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) presents compliments to all embassies and permanent missions in Addis Ababa and has the honour to inform that the Federal Government of Nigeria has withdrawn the candidacy of Ambassador Yonov Frederick Agah for election to the position of director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO),” according to the letter.

“Nigeria is therefore pleased to request the support of esteemed AU member states as well as permanent missions and embassies in Addis Ababa in favour of the candidacy of Okonjo-Iweala.”

Agah is Nigeria’s permanent representative to the WTO and WTO’s deputy director-general.

Okonjo-Iweala currently chairs the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), a public-private global health partnership with the goal of increasing access to immunisation in poor countries.

She also sits on the board of Twitter and is a former managing director (operations) at the World Bank.

On March 7, President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa appointed her a member of the country’s economic advisory council.

A month later on April 10, Kristalina Georgieva, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), named Okonjo-Iweala a member of the fund’s external advisory group.

Okonjo-Iweala is one of the four special envoys appointed by the African Union (AU) on April 12 to mobilise international support for its efforts toward addressing the coronavirus pandemic.

In 2012, she contested to become World Bank president becoming the first female and first black candidate.

She was listed among one of the top 100 most powerful women in the world by Forbes four consecutive times from 2011 to 2014. She was also listed as one of the top 100 most influential people in the world by TIME magazine in 2014.

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