The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has accepted Nigeria’s nomination of a former Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, as one of the candidates for the office of the director-general of the organisation.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on Thursday, June 9, 2020, nominated Okonjo-Iweala for the post of WTO Director-General to succeed the current Director-General, Mr Roberto Azevêdo, who has announced he will step down on 31 August, 2020.
After Buhari endorsed Okonjo-Iweala for the position and withdrew the candidacy of Yonov Frederick Agah, Nigeria’s permanent representative to WTO, Egypt went on the offensive.
Egypt argued that her nomination was out of time and therefore flew in the face of the rules of nomination which set by the African Union (AU).
It said member states of the AU had been required to nominate candidates for the director-general position by November 30, 2019 over five months ago while the request to replace Agah with Okonjo-Iweala was made on June 4, 2020.
The Egyptian mission said the decision to withdraw Mr Agah’s candidature meant Nigeria forfeited its chance to participate in the race.
However, the WTO board on Tuesday accepted Okonjo-Iweala’s candidature and noted that nominations are still open till July 8, 2020.
“Nigeria, on 9 June 2020, nominated Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for the post of WTO Director-General to succeed the current Director-General, Mr. Roberto Azevêdo, who has announced he will step down on 31 August 2020.
“According to the timetable announced by the Chair of the General Council, David Walker, the nomination period will close on 8 July 2020,” WTO said.
WTO added that shortly after the nomination period has closed, candidates will be invited to meet with members at a special General Council meeting, present their views and take questions from the membership.