By Habiba Broger
Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on Thursday expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari and members of the House of Representatives for supporting her candidacy for the position of Director General of the World Trade Organisation( WTO).
”I want to also thank the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, and the Nigerian ambassadors to Switzerland, WTO as well as the Permanent Mission to the UN in Geneva,” she said.
Okonjo-Iweala, who stated this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Geneva, also thanked the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for endorsing her candidacy as the race for the WTO top job enters the selection phase.
The former Nigerian minister of finance is vying for the top job alongside candidates from Kenya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia. UK, Moldova, Mexico, and the Republic of Korea.
All the candidates are in Geneva to make presentations to the WTO General Council and address the press from July 15 – July 17.
The former Finance Minister, who on Wednesday urged the WTO to elect its Director General based on merit, told NAN that given her experience as a development economist, she was best suited for the job.
”People ask me often what best qualifies you for the job – I think the WTO needs leadership. It cannot continue to do what it did before.
”If it’s to stay as one of the premier institutions of the 21st century, it needs strong leadership which is a quality I have.
”It needs knowledge of trade which I have for being a development economist which my entire career is built around. It needs someone with political skills and international connections that can reach policy makers in all countries- and I have that owing my 35 years of experience
“The job needs someone who listens – and I’m a good listener and lastly some who is solution oriented and pragmatic.
”I have experience in all sectors; ranging from the public to private sectors and international civil societies as well as from multilateral organisations.
“If you put all these together, you will see I’m best qualified for the job,” she said.
NAN reports that the second phase of the selection process, in which candidates would make themselves known to members will end on Sept. 7.
Similarly, the third phase which is the consultation process would commence same day.
At the forthcoming consultation, Chairman of the General Council alongside Chairs of the Dispute Settlement Body and the Trade Policy Review Body would consult with all the WTO members to determine which candidate is best placed to attract a consensus support.
Meanwhile, WTO’s outgoing Director General Mr Roberto Azevêdo would retire in August this year after serving two terms of seven years.