Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s candidate for the World Trade Organisation director-general election, says it is false to believe that the African Union already has a consensus candidate.
In an interview with The Telegraph, Okonjo-Iweala said efforts to get the backing of the entire continent is ongoing.
“The notion that there’s an AU candidate at the moment is not true. We’re working extremely hard to make sure we bring Africa to support me and it’s going quite well,” she said.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) recently endorsed Okonjo-Iweala’s candidate and the Republic of Benin withdrew its candidate to support her.
There had been ruckus after President Muhammadu Buhari approved her candidature to replace Yonov Frederick Agah, Nigeria’s former candidate for the WTO DG position.
Egypt and the AU’s Office of Legal Counsel had opined that Okonjo-Iweala’s nomination violated the candidature guidelines provided by the AU.
However, the WTO told TheCable that the former World Bank managing director is eligible to run for the office.
The Nigerian embassy also said the AU candidature guidelines did not say anything about candidate replacement, hence no violation had taken place.
Okonjo-Iweala, who currently chairs the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) backed by the Bill Gates Foundation, said the WTO needs a fresh pair of eyes to break out the challenges it faces.
“The issues aren’t just technical. If they were, they would have been solved long ago,” she explained.
“I’m not from the WTO but that’s good. We need a fresh pair of eyes and ears that stands back and looks at things from a different perspective and picks up where the intersections are and where we can make progress
“I see the job of the next director-general as restoring the WTO, breaking out of the challenges it faces and restoring it to serve the multilateral trading system that the world needs. China and the US are members so I’ll be looking to see how I can serve their interests so that the system can be stronger. But my desire is to be there for all members.”
Okonjo-Iweala said it is the turn of a qualified person who merits the job to take over as WTO DG — “If on top of that, the person is an African and a woman, why not?”
Source; The Cable