Nigeria has appealed for global support for its candidate as election for the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Director-General position began on Monday in Geneva.
Former Finance Minister and a development economist, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, is vying for the top job alongside candidates from Mexico, Egypt, Moldova, United Kingdom (UK), Saudia Arabia, Kenya, and South Korea.
At a reception in Geneva to garner support for Mrs Okonjo-Iweala, the Minister of Trade and Investment, Adebayo Adeniyi, described her as a global icon with proven leadership skills that the WTO required.
Represented by the Charge d’ Affairs of the Nigerian Trade Office in Geneva, Mr Abdulhamid Adamu, the minister listed some of Mrs Okonjo-Iweala’s achievements as spearheading negotiations and reforms that enhanced transparency of government accounts and strengthening institutions against corruption, among others.
In the first phase of the election, Chair of the WTO’s General Council, Ambassador David Walker and his colleagues from the Dispute Settlement body, Mr Dacio Castillo, as well as his Trade Policy Review counterpart, Mr Harald Aspelund, will commence consultations with WTO members.
The consultation is geared toward assessing their preferences to determine which candidate is best placed to attract consensus support.
At the end of the first phase of consultation, three candidates will be dropped thereby paving the way for five candidates to move to the next level.
Okonjo-Iweala in an interview expressed readiness for the job saying she possessed the required competence.
“I want our partners and the WTO members to know that I have the bundle of skills required to lead the organisation at this time and put it ahead and face it towards the future. I am hoping that they will support me. I have had constructive discussions with the WTO members and feel really good and confident but nothing is done until it’s done. So I don’t want to be overconfident, “ she said.
She expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari and his Chief of Staff Prof. Ibrahim Gambari for nominating and supporting her.
Okonjo-Iweala also expressed gratitude to the Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama for his support.
The WTO election process usually lasts up to two months. So far, no date has been fixed yet for the announcement of the winner.