Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala
Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala

Nigeria’s Foreign Ministry has vowed to ensure that Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigerian candidate for the top position of the World Trade Organization (WTO), takes office despite the hurdles ahead.

“Nigeria will continue to engage relevant stakeholders to ensure that the aspiration of her candidate to lead the WTO is realized,” said a statement by Nigerian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ferdinand Nwoye.

An official announcement by the WTO on Wednesday said Nigeria’s Former Finance Minister Okonjo-Iweala is proposed to become the new director-general of the Geneva-based organization in a closed-door meeting, assessing that the candidate “had the best chance of attaining the consensus of the membership.”

However, “one delegation could not support the candidacy of Dr. Ngozi and said they would continue to support South Korean Minister Yoo Myung-hee. That delegation was the United States of America,” said WTO spokesman Keith Rockwell.

“It is important to highlight that Okonjo-Iweala has secured cross-regional backing with only the United States opposing the consensus,” said the statement by the Nigerian Foreign Ministry.

Since early October, Okonjo-Iweala had been facing off against the other female candidate Yoo in the final round of the race to become the new head of the WTO. Okonjo-Iweala’s candidacy will be put for endorsement at a WTO General Council meeting on Nov. 9.

Upon approval, she will become the first woman and African to head the global trade watchdog in its 25-year history. The WTO’s leadership vacuum was created after its former chief Roberto Azevedo stepped down on Aug. 31, a year before the end of his official term.

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