Profile of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala | Nominee for YNaija Person of the Year 2021

When you speak about inspiration to women, it doesn’t get any higher than what Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala represents.

A volley of success, having excelled at every venture she’s been in, as well as every appointment she’s accepted. The latest being her rise to become Director General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO); a position that has neither been held by an African, or a woman previously.

To say her election as DG of the WTO in March 2021 is an inspiration, would be putting it very mildly. It’s a milestone and achievement that every Nigerian was proud to share in. Her win by a large mile, reiterated the fact that Nigerians are leaders regardless of where they may find themselves. Known to all, it also proved the age-old maxim that “hard work pays.”

Prior to her becoming DG of the WTO, she was Managing Director of the World Bank and served two terms as Finance Minister in Nigeria (2003–2006 and 2011–2015); both of which brought prosperity to the country. Her policies while in office were bold, refreshing and brilliant. This achievement thus, came off the heels of what has been described as a highly accomplished and demonstrated career in managing complex finance spaces; including that of Nigeria – known to be very volatile.

The initiatives she created during her tenure as Coordinating Minister of the Nigerian economy were instrumental to the country’s economic growth and were lauded by financial experts all across the world. During her first tenure under the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, she introduced the idea of publishing the monthly allocation to each state in the papers as a way of bolstering transparency. She also coordinated efforts to free Nigeria of an $18-Billion-dollar debt, amongst other great works.

During her second tenure under the Goodluck Jonathan administration, she introduced the Growing Girls and Women in Nigeria Program (GWIN); a gender-responsive budgeting system as well as the YouWIN initiative to support young business owners. These programmes contributed to created the growth of the economy, and saw numerous businesses spring out.

She was previously on the Boards of Standard Chartered PLC and Twitter Inc., was recently appointed Special Envoy by the African Union (AU) to mobilise international financial support for the fight against COVID-19 and Special Envoy of the World Health Organisation (WHO) for Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator. To list out her extensive achievements would require a book of its own.

With 30 years’ experience across Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America and North America, little wonder NOI is widely celebrated, as she is stands atop pillars of excellence. The Delta-born Princess was this year listed among Forbes 100 Most Powerful Women in the World after a previous honour in 2020, as Forbes Africa Person of the Year.

A boulder that never stops rolling, she was the only Nigerian listed on the Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World 2021 list.

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