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Okonjo-Iweala makes first visit to Nigeria as WTO DG

The Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on Saturday made her first visit to Nigeria since she assumed office.

Okonjo-Iweala, who was received on her arrival in the country by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Nasir Sani- Gwarzo, also said told reporters in Abuja that her visit to Nigeria was to show appreciation to President Muhammadu Buhari for the support accorded her.

 

Also, she hinted that discussion on how Nigeria can leverage her position to benefit from trans-national trade formed part of her visit to the country.

 

Okonjo-Iweala’s visit to Nigeria comes about a month after she was confirmed as the Director- General of the global trade organisation. As the first woman and first African to lead the international body, her term began on March 1 and is for four years.

 

The term, which is renewable, will expire on August 31, 2025. In the journey to become the Director-General of the WTO, Okonjo-Iweala had the backing of the majority of the member-countries of the organisation.

 

She, however, vied for the job with the Republic of Korea’s Trade Minister, Yoo Myung-hee, who enjoyed the support of former United States President Donald Trump to become the WTO DG.

 

The Korean minister later announced on February 5 that she was abandoning her bid to lead the international trade body, leading to Okonjo-Iweala’s emergence as the sole candidate for the job.

 

Following the withdrawal, the U.S. government through its Trade Representative expressed its “strong support” for the candidacy of Okonjo-Iweala as the Director- General of the WTO.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari in June 2020, nominated Okonjo-Iweala, 66, as Nigeria’s candidate to lead the WTO. She is a Nigerian-American economist and international development expert who has a 25-year career at the World Bank, scaling the ranks to the second top position of Managing Director, Operations.

 

The Delta State-born economist served two terms as the Minister of Finance under former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan respectively.

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