The support for Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s representative for the job of Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) – has increased among European countries.
Okonjo-Iweala made it into the final five which will be trimmed down to two after which the candidate to occupy the Director-General position will be announced on November 7, 2020.
Okonjo-Iweala made it into the final five alongside Amina C. Mohamed of Kenya, Mohammad Maziad Al-Tuwaijri of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and Liam Fox of the United Kingdom after the delegates of the WTO pared the list of eight candidates by eliminating Jesus Seade Kuri of Mexico, Tudor Ulianovschi of Moldova, and Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh of Egypt.
Now, Okonjo-Iweala’s chances of making it into the final top two spot is high, as countries in the European Union are throwing their weight behind her.
Okonjo-Iweala’s nomination by Nigeria had initially been protested by Egypt after its representative, Mamdouh, said her nomination was done after the nomination deadline.
Nigeria had replaced Yonov Frederick Agah – its initial candidate – in June. This decision was protested by Egypt and AU’s Office of Legal Counsel.
However, the WTO said substituting Agah for Okonjo-Iweala was within the timeframe for nomination. Since her nomination, prominent leaders have voiced their support for Okonjo-Iweala.
Okonjo-Iweala isn’t the only candidate receiving support from the European Union, as South Korea’s candidate, Yoo Myung-hee is also being supported by representatives of the European Union.
Prominent Leaders Backing Okonjo-Iweala
Former UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown said Okonjo-Iweala is suitable for the top job at the trade organisation, hence, his support for her. Brown said the former managing director of the World Bank is known for handling “the toughest of jobs” and delivering results.
While speaking about her qualities, Brown also pointed out her global recognition which has also seen her linked to the president of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) before David Malpass was elected..
Kenya’s former Director of Anti-Corruption Commission, Patrick Lumumba, chose Okonjo-Iweala over fellow citizen, representative of Kenya, Amina Mohamed, whom Okonjo-Iweala is competing against.
Eloi Laourou, the candidate submitted by the Benin government – as the country’s representative for the WTO Director-General job – was withdrawn by the Republic of Benin, in support of Okonjo-Iweala.
However, despite the division among African countries to tender one strong candidate, Okonjo-Iweala is gathering the needed support globally.
The most recent support Okonjo-Iweala got was from Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote. Dangote said the global trade organisation needs the skills and experience Ngozi-Okonjo possesses. According to the businessman, Ngozi-Okonjo has the ability to mitigate the obstacles WTO faces.