President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the nomination of a former two-term Minister of Finance and former Managing Director (Operations) of the World Bank, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, for the position of Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
This comes three weeks after the incumbent, Mr. Roberto Azevêdo, announced that he would step down from the position on August 31, 2020, cutting his second term short by a year. Per Azevêdo, this is to ensure his successor has enough time to work with WTO members to shape the strategic direction for the Twelfth Ministerial Conference (MC12) and beyond. The election is currently scheduled to hold in Geneva, Switzerland next year.
Buhari conveyed this in an official announcement through the Nigerian Embassy and Permanent Mission to the African Union (AU) and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In the note, he communicated the decision to withdraw the candidacy of Yonov Frederick Agah for the election.
Mr Agah is currently one of the four deputy directors-general of the WTO. He was first appointed deputy director-general in 2013 and then reappointed for a second four-year term in 2017. His tenure runs out next year.
Who is Okonjo Iweala?
Dr. Okonjo-Iweala is one of the highest-rated Nigerians in the foreign affairs community. This stems from her over 30 years of experience within the global finance, economics, and international development space on the back of her tenure as the Managing Director of the World Bank and then as a two time Minister of Finance and Foreign Affairs. She is presently the Chair of the Board of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. Since its creation in 2000, Gavi has immunized over 760 million children across the globe. She also sits on the Boards of Standard Chartered PLC and Twitter Inc and was recently appointed as African Union (AU) Special Envoy to mobilize International Financial Support in the fight against COVID-19, as well as Special Envoy for the World Health Organization’s Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator.