*Okonjo-Iweala Speaks: I Remain Positive Despite Hiccups…
By Gbenga Abulude (Politics and General Desk)
Nigeria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has broken its silence on the United States opposition to the emergence of former Finance Minister, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the Director-General designate of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
In a statement signed by the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr Ferdinand Nwoye and titled: ‘Update on Dr Okonjo-Iweala’s aspiration to lead the World Trade Organisation WTO‘, the Ministry said it is in talks with relevant stakeholders to ensure that she is officially named as the DG of the world trade body.
Recall The New Diplomat had exclusively revealed how Okonjo-Iweala emerged winner of the highly competitive race, securing the majority endorsements from 164 member countries at the final stage of the race earlier this week.
The process of picking WTO’s DG is based on consensus building where the voting members are expected to adopt any candidate that commands acceptance of the majority of members nations.
However, where such consensus cannot be achieved, the Council members will resort to outright voting with the highest number of votes deciding who gets the job.
The United States is in favour of South Korea’s current trade Minister, Yoo Myung-hee and is advancing reasons why Okonjo-Iweala should not be handed the plum job.
But Nigeria’s foreign affairs ministry on Thursday said Nigeria has continued with its intense lobbying and engagement to ensure that Okonjo-Iweala finally gets the nod at a meeting of the General Council of the WTO scheduled for Nov 9.
The statement reads:
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs wishes to inform that the 3rd and final round of the selection process of the Director-General of the World Trade Organization WTO was concluded on Tuesday, October 27, 2020 and the result was formally announced on Wednesday, October 28, 2020.
“The candidate from Nigeria, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has secured Support of the majority of the member countries but is yet to be declared and returned The Winner.
“This is because apart from winning the election, all 164 members states of WTO were expected to adopt the winner by consensus in accordance with the rule of procedure of the WTO. It is important to highlight that Dr Okonjo-Iweala has secured cross-regional backing with only the United States opposing the consensus.
“The ministry wishes to further inform that a meeting of the General Council of the WTO has been scheduled for 9th November, 2020 for the final decision on the election process.
“Nigeria will continue to engage the relevant stakeholders to ensure that the lofty aspiration of her candidate to lead the World Trade Organisation is realised,” Nigeria’s foreign ministry said.
Meanwhile, Okonjo-Iweala on Thursday reacted to her dominant lead in the WTO race. She said she was very humbled by the widespread support she got among 164 members, noting she looks forward to November 9 General Council meeting amid the US opposition to her appointment.
Happy for the success & continued progress of our @wto DG bid. Very humbled to be declared the candidate with the largest, broadest support among members & most likely to attract consensus. We move on to the next step on Nov 9, despite hiccups. We're keeping the positivity going!
— Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (@NOIweala) October 29, 2020