Leke Baiyewu, Abuja
The House of Representatives has endorsed a former Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, for the position of Director-General of the World Trade Organisation.
The House endorsed Okonjo-Iweala at the plenary on Tuesday, following the unanimous adoption of a motion moved by the Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu.
Adopting the motion, the lawmakers resolved that “the House unanimously endorses the candidature of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for the position of the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation for the period of 2021-2025.”
The House also commended ECOWAS Authority of Heads of States and Governments for their strong endorsement, while urging the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to further rally other African leaders to support her bid as the DG of WTO.
While urging the Pan African parliament to follow suit, the House urge the Nigerian Government to interface with the governments of Egypt and Kenya “to step down their candidates in the spirit of African oneness and reciprocity.”
Moving the motion, Elumelu recalled that via the Marrakesh Agreement of 15th April, 1994, which was signed by 123 nations, the WTO came into existence, replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. He noted that on January 1, 1995, the agreement came into force with a mission to regulate international trades in goods, services and intellectual property between participating countries, by providing a framework for negotiating trade agreements and a dispute resolution process, aimed at enforcing the adherence of participants to their agreements.
Elumelu said, “The chairman of the General Council of the WTO has announced the commencement of the process to replace the outgoing Director-General, Roberto Azevedo, with the opening date for nomination set at 8th June 2020 and closing date for 8th July 2020.
“A distinguished Nigerian, two-time Minister of Finance, one-time Minister of Foreign Affairs and former Managing Director of the World Bank, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-lweala, has been formally nominated by the Federal Republic of Nigeria to vie for the exalted position of the Director-General of the WTO for the period of 2021-2025, and if successful will be the first female and first African to have occupied the office.
“President Buhari, having put into consideration her outstanding academic and professional background as well as her long years of managerial experience at the top echelons of multilateral institutions, her reputation as a fearless reformer and excellent negotiator, graciously endorsed her as the nation’s candidate for the WTO job.”
According to the Minority Leader, due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, with many countries faced with difficult choices and critical moments, the WTO has a vital role to play in hunting for trade solutions and building trust amongst member states.
The lawmaker stressed the need for a capable hand that can make the WTO fit to thrive for the 21st century. He said there is no gainsaying that Okonjo-lweala has the requisite capacity and experience to handle the challenges of WTO “at this critical moment.”