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Buhari throws support behind Okonjo-Iweala ahead WTO poll

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Ahead of World Trade Organisation (WTO) poll to elect a new leader, President Muhammadu Buhari assured that the country would explore every opportunity to ensure Nigeria’s former Minister of Finance and Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, emerges WTO Director-General.

He explained that his administration would stop at nothing in deploying its entire energy to ensure that the Nigerian candidate beat his Korean contender to clinch the position of the international body.

Buhari noted that since Okonjo-Iweala had made it as one of two candidates contesting for the top position of the multilateral institution, there was need for the country to provide needed support through its bilateral relations with other countries for her emergence as the WTO DG.

Speaking when he received the former Managing Director (Operations) of the World Bank at the Presidential Villa, the President said that she deserved more support to get the top job because of her profile and diligence in serving the country, and the world.

“I assure you that we will do all that we can to ensure that you emerge as the Director-General of WTO, not only because you are a Nigerian, but because you are a hardworking Nigerian. You deserve this,’’ Buhari was quoted to have said in a statement by his spokesperson, Femi Adesina.

The President assured Okonjo-Iweala that he would make more phone calls, and send letters to some world leaders for more support for her emergence as the new DG.

“I did the same for Dr Akinwunmi Adesina for President of the African Development Bank. Both of you served the country under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). You are both highly qualified. We will continue to support you. I will immediately make those calls,’’ the President told Dr Okonjo-Iweala.

In her remarks, Okonjo-Iweala, a renowned development economist, thanked the President and his ministers, particularly the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, and Ministers of Industry, Trade, and Investment for supporting her staunchly.

“I feel very proud of Nigeria. I am getting so much support from you, Mr President, Chief of Staff, Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Ministers of Industry, Trade, and Investments. The ministers have been working around the clock to ensure that I succeed,’’ she said.

The former Minister of Finance also appreciated ECOWAS leaders for their endorsement, mentioning, in particular, the outstanding contributions of President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger Republic and immediate past Chairman of ECOWAS as well as President Alhassan Quattara of Cote d’Ivoire.

She asked the President to “make one final push within the week to beat the Koreans and bring this to Nigeria by sending a few letters and placing telephone calls to some world leaders, and also thank others for their support.’’

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