The House of Representatives, following their unanimous endorsement of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for the office of the director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), has called upon other African countries to follow in their steps.
At Tuesday’s plenary session, the lower legislative chamber urged other African candidates — from Kenya and Egypt — to step down for Okonjo-Iweala.
“It is the perfect time for Africa to assume leadership at the WTO and all concerned stakeholders, must unanimously commit to achieving this”, Nigeria’s lawmakers said.
The House said three candidates from Africa, splits the continent’s votes drastically, “which cripples the prospect of an African assuming the WTO position.”
They asked the federal government to “urgently reach out to the governments of Egypt and Kenya on the need to rally round a single candidate for the continent in the person of Dr. Okonjo-lweala”.
“In the past, Nigeria has staunchly supported the candidatures of other Africans to leadership position at multilateral organisations, including the candidacy of Late Boutros Boutros Ghali an Egyptian national to become the Secretary-General of the United Nations,” the green chamber said.
“A good turn deserves another and we must now unite the African continent and ensure cooperation amongst our countries to put the continent first.”
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari had nominated the former minister for the WTO top job, in favor of Yonov Frederick Agah, WTO deputy director-general and Nigeria’s former candidate for the election due to ‘firm belief’ in her abilities.
While considering a motion by Ndudi Elumelu, minority leader, the federal lawmakers said it would be a major victory for Okonjo-Iweala to be the first female and first African to lead the WTO.
They described Okonjo-Iweala as a “fearless reformer and excellent negotiator” whose “outstanding academic and professional background” makes her to stand out as a choice candidate.
Meanwhile, Okonjo-Iweala has described herself as “the best woman for the job”, saying the WTO needs a fresh pair of eyes to take on its leadership.
The development economist described WTO as a critical global organisation that needs to be reformed in key areas like dispute resolution, adding that its effectiveness will be enhanced if it becomes more inclusive by supporting women, MSMEs, among others.
Dr. Iweala’s candidacy is one that carries almost total backing of the masses and powerful supporters, with endorsement of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). She continues to seek the support of the African Union (AU).
Dr. Iweala previously encountered opposition from Egypt and the AU’s office of legal counsel, as theyopined that Okonjo-Iweala’s nomination violated the candidature guidelines provided by the AU. Egypt had declared their candidate on the 9th of June– the same day as Dr. Iweala– as Mr Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh.
However, the WTO cleared all doubts, saying the former World Bank managing director is eligible to run for the office.
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