Nigeria’s Candidate for the position of director-general at the World Trade Organization has seen increased support in the past few weeks, the latest being a direct endorsement message from the first female Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard.
Gillard, who served as Australia’s 27th Prime Minister, on Monday lauded Dr. Okonjo-Iweala’s competence and achievements, saying she is “An excellent negotiator and leader, she would be a wonderful choice”.
“My brilliant co-author of Women and Leadership, Real Lives, Real Lessons, Dr. Iweala is in the running to be the next Director-General of the World Trade Organization. An excellent negotiator and leader, she would be a wonderful choice”– Julia Gillard, former Australian Prime Minister.
In response, Nigeria’s widely supported candidate, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala responded:
“Julia, thank you so much for this wonderful endorsement for leadership of World Trade Organization. Coming from you the first female Prime Minister of Australia, you know what it takes to be a true leader”.
Meanwhile, Okonjo-Iweala has described herself as “the best woman for the job”, saying the WTO needs a fresh pair of eyes to take on its leadership.
The development economist described WTO as a critical global organisation that needs to be reformed in key areas like dispute resolution, adding that its effectiveness will be enhanced if it becomes more inclusive by supporting women, MSMEs, among others.
Dr. Iweala’s candidacy is one that carries almost total backing of the masses and powerful supporters, with endorsement of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
President Muhammadu Buhari had approved her candidature as a replacement for Yonov Frederick Agah, WTO deputy director-general and Nigeria’s former candidate for the election due to firm belief in her abilities.
Dr. Iweala previously encountered opposition from Egypt and the AU’s office of legal counsel, as theyopined that Okonjo-Iweala’s nomination violated the candidature guidelines provided by the AU. Egypt had declared their candidate on the 9th of June– the same day as Dr. Iweala– as Mr Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh.
However, the WTO cleared all doubts, saying the former World Bank managing director is eligible to run for the office.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is a Nigerian-born economist and international development expert. At 66, she sits on the Boards of Standard Chartered Bank, Twitter, Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, and the African Risk Capacity.
Dr. Iweala sits on the Boards of Standard Chartered Bank, Twitter, Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, and the African Risk Capacity.
Previously, Okonjo-Iweala spent a 25-year career at the World Bank as a development economist, scaling the ranks to the Number 2 position of Managing Director, Operations (2007-2011).
She also served two terms as Finance Minister of Nigeria (2003-2006, 2011-2015) under the leadership of President Olusegun Obasanjo and President Goodluck Jonathan respectively.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) deals with the global rules of trade between nations. Its main function is to ensure that trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible.