Nigeria’s former Coordinating Minister of Finance and Foreign Affairs, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was on Monday confirmed as the next Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Although Mrs Okonjo-Iweala emerged the most favaourite, having beem selected as the consensus candidate of the majority of the member-countries of the organization since October 2020, the confirmation of her appointed was delayed till Monday.
The delay followed the strong opposition of her candidacy by the then Donald Trump-led United States government, which supported the Korean Trade Minister, Yoo Myung-hee.
With the sudden withdrawal from the race of the South Korean candidate on February 3, the coast became clear for Mrs Okonjo-Iweala, who was earlier presented to the WTO Council as the most favoured candidate to emerge.
At the end of its special meeting on Monday, in Geneva, Switzerland, the WTO General Council confirmed Mrs Okonjo-Iweala as the successor of the former Director-General of the organization who stepped down on August 31, 2020, more than one year before his term expired.
The former Managing Director of the World Bank is not only the seventh head of the global trade watchdog; but fittingly as a woman of destiny, the first woman and first African to ever occupy that position.
Confirming the appointment of Mrs Okonjo-Iweala, the WTO General Council Chair, David Walker of New Zealand, said her tenure would commence from March 1, 2021.
A renowned global finance expert and economist, Mrs Okonjo-Iweala, an international development professional, with over 30-years’ experience, worked in Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America and North America.
Until her appointment, Mrs Okonjo-Iweala was the Chair of the Board of GAVI, the global Vaccine Alliance; a member of the Boards of Standard Chartered PLC and Twitter Inc.
Recently, she was appointed the African Union (AU) Special Envoy responsible for mobilizing international financial support in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic; Special Envoy for the World Health Organization’s access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator.
Nigeria’s two-time Finance Minister (2003-2006) and (2011-2015), Mrs Okonjo-Iweala also served briefly as Nigeria’s Foreign Minister in 2006.
She had a 25-year career at the World Bank as a development economist, rising to the position of managing director (operations).
In her capacity as finance minister under the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, Mrs Okonjo-Iweala led Nigeria’s various reform processes, particularly on macroeconomic, trade, financial and real sector issues.
At the World Bank, she was instrumental to various initiatives to support low-income economies survive the food crisis of 2008 and 2009 as well as the global financial crisis.