The heavens could literally feel the excitement among Nigerians as erstwhile Co-ordinating Minister of the Economy and 2-time Finance Minister, was named Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Since 2019 when she first indicated interest to lead the international trade body, the 66-year old economist has been in the eyes in the storm; with former President Trump of the United States contributing to an initial stalemate in the process leading to her eventual appointment by representatives of the 164 WTO member countries.
Regardless of how suspense-filled and faith-building the buildup to NOI’s emergence may have been, one cannot but extol the giant strides she has shown in the last 40 years; endearing her to girls and women all over the world.
Fresh from a 25-year career at the World Bank, where she started as an intern in 1983 and rose to the number-two position of managing director, the Ogwashi-Ukwu-born princess accepted the invitation of President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2003, to become the first female Finance Minister of Nigeria.
NOI would later become the first woman to serve in that office twice after accepting President Goodluck Jonathan’s offer of a super ministerial role; which came this time with the extra office of Co-ordinating Minister for the Economy.
Leaving that office at the exit of Dr. Jonathan from office in 2015, “she joined Lazard briefly as a senior advisor,” became Board Chair of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, since 2016 and serves on the boards of the Rockefeller Foundation and the Centre for Global Development, among others.
Also “chair of African Risk Capacity, a specialised agency of the African Union to help member states prepare for and respond to extreme weather events and natural disasters, she sits on the board of Twitter and on Standard Chartered PLC. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, NOI has been appointed African Union special envoy to mobilise international financial support as well as WHO special envoy for access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator.” The resume is never-ending!
With her announcement as the head of the 74-year old organisation (inclusive of the WTO precursor General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) years), it is believed that Nigeria and the African continent would immensely benefit from her leadership.
Most importantly at this time, Nigeria is once again mentioned in the ‘good books of life,’ as against the cataclysmic failure of leadership and sorry tales that we’ve continued to witness out of this country in the last few weeks.
May we all be the better for it!
Temidayo Taiwo-Sidiq is a Journalist, Political Analyst and Satirist with major interest in Nigerian Politics, Governance and Sports.