Okonjo-Iweala emerges Director-General at the World Trade Organisation

Okonjo-Iweala

Nigeria’s former Finance Minister, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has emerged the new Director-General of the World Trade Organisation after a victorious contest with South Korean rival Ms Yoo Myung-hee. Okonjo-Iweala’s victory is expected to be announced formally by the WTO later today.

Dr Okonjo-Iweala’s win is coming after a number of a people endorsed her for the role. Okonjo-Iweala’s recommendation was made by three WTO ambassadors after consulting with members in a series of closed-door meetings in Geneva.

Before she emerged winner, her eligibility as regards to the position was debated. For many, it was a matter of her citizenship and her nationality. Oppositionists played on her Nigerian nationality as reasons enough to make her unfit, forgetting that the former finance minister holds dual citizenship with Nigeria and the United States.

Okonjo-Iweala has spent most of her adult life working in the United States after arriving in the 1970s to attend Harvard University. She has also held outstanding roles at the World Bank for 25 years living in the Washington suburbs. She obtained American citizenship in 2019. And according to her spokeswoman, it’s not uncommon for international civil servants who spend long stretches working abroad to take second citizenship, especially when their families have been living overseas with them.

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In the wake of the argument on her eligibility, Stuart Harbinson, former senior WTO official acknowledged that it is uncommon for such scenarios to play out. However, she stated that ultimately, the goal is to find the right candidate. And Okonjo-Iweala has emerged the winner.

Okonjo’s win is a win for women and Africa

The WTO deals with regulation of trade in goods, services and intellectual property between participating countries by providing a framework for negotiating trade agreements and a dispute resolution process for participating countries. From its inception 25 years ago, the global trade watchdog has never had a woman hold such a powerful position and definitely not African. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala,  emerging as the winner is a win for women globally and Africa as a whole.

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