The race to succeed Robert Azevedo as Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) reaches the decisive stage beginning from this week when the 164 member states of the organisation begin the process of deciding who between the two remaining contestants, Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and South Korea’s Yoo Myung Hee, deserves the position.
It has been a keen contest, which started with an array of eminently qualified contestants from across the world.
The fact that the two remaining contestants have come thus far shows that they both are deserving of the position. But in the end, there can only be one choice for the position, which decision the member states of the organisation have to make in the coming days.
Without mincing words, we firmly and unequivocally believe that Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is the more deserving of the position between the two. Mrs Okonjo-Iweala brings with her impeccable credentials, which makes her the preferred choice for the post.
Academically, she graduated from the world-famous Harvard University, regarded by most as the preeminent Ivy League university in the United States of America and probably the world, where she qualified as a development economist. From there she worked with the World Bank and rose to become its Managing Director, nominally the second most influential official of the Development Bank.
Okonjo-Iweala also served as Nigeria’s Finance Minister on two different occasions and had a short stint as the country’s Foreign Minister.
In all her career as a public servant both in Nigeria and with the International institutions she served, Okonjo-Iweala has chalked up an impressive record as an initiator and driver of issues around economics, finance, gender, public health and good governance.
But it is on issues relating to the economics of development as a public official that she has carved out a niche and which makes her the preferred choice for the WTO Job.
As Nigeria’s Finance Minister, she initiated and drove far-reaching reforms on public finances and successfully negotiated a tough debt relief arrangement with the country’s principal creditors. This helped to ease off Nigeria’s debt overhang freeing much-needed funds for the country’s development.
Following the end of her tenure of service with the Nigerian government, Mrs Okonjo-Iweala has moved on to worthy causes of global significance and import.
With this record of achievement, it is hardly surprising that Mrs Okonjo-Iweala has reportedly got the endorsement of 79 out of the 164 member states of the WTO. The latest was from the European parliament, which found favour in her proposals to comprehensively reform the WTO in line with the emerging realities of the global trading system. But most importantly Okonjo-Iweala’s concrete plans to integrate the WTO into on-going efforts by countries around the world to cope with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic have won many to her side. This marks her as one in tune with the present realities of our world and the challenges we all face going forward. With this, it is expected that more countries will endorse Okonjo-Iweala’s bid to clinch the coveted post in the days preceding the final election.
With Okonjo-Iweala as the WTO boss, the increasing profile of emerging countries in the global economic system will not only be recognised, it will also help grant them a greater say in how it is shaped.