The nomination of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as Nigeria’s candidate for the position of the Director-General (DG) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has been opposed by the Egyptian government.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on Thursday announced the nomination of Okonjo-Iweala, a former minister of finance, for the position.
Buhari had said that Nigeria was withdrawing its previous nominee for the position, Yonov Frederick Agah and replacing him with the former finance minister.
But the Egyptian government, barely 24 hours after the nomination, registered its opposition to it.
The northern African country, in a letter to the Ministerial Committee on Candidatures for the election, asked that Okonjo-Iweala’s nomination be rejected.
The Egyptian government argued in its communication No. 081 /2020- AU of June 5, 2020, to the Permanent Missions of the WTO Member States of the Ministerial Committee on Candidatures, that Nigeria’s decision to withdraw Agah’s candidature meant it had forfeited its chance to participate in the race.
In a memo it sent to the African Union Commission (Commissioner of Political Affairs/Office of Legal Counsel), Egypt maintained that as far as it was concerned, three candidates, representing Benin Republic, Egypt and Nigeria, had already obtained the endorsement of the Executive Council to contest the position of the WTO Director General vide its decision EX.CL/December. 1090(XXXVI) of February 2020.
It named the three candidates to include Eloi Laourou of the Republic of Benin, Abdulhameed Mamdouh of the Arab Republic of Egypt Arab Republic, and Mr Agah of Nigeria.
The Egyptian government said since Agah’s candidature had been withdrawn that it was urging the Ministerial Committee on Candidatures to officially inform the African Group in Geneva about the development and Nigeria’s disqualification.
According to Egypt, the committee should acknowledge that “Abdulhameed Mamdouh of the Arab Republic of Egypt and Eloi Laourou of the Republic of Benin are currently the only two endorsed African candidates.”
It added in the memo, “In this context, the Permanent Mission of Egypt would like to highlight that Government of Egypt is undertaking consultations with the Government Benin with the aim of reaching a consensus on one African candidate between the only two currently endorsed African candidates, and will communicate the outcomes of these consultations to the esteemed Ministerial Committee at the soonest possible date.”
Egypt‘a opposition to Okonjo-Iweala’s nomination is coming despite the fact that the July 8, 2020, deadline for the closure of nominations for the elections is still more than a month away.
Buhari, in his diplomatic communication through the Nigerian Embassy and Permanent Mission to the African Union (AU) and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) in Addis Ababa, did not give reasons for the withdrawal of Mr Agah’s candidacy.
However, it is believed that the Nigerian leader may have considered Okonjo-Iweala’s global stature as a former Managing Director (operations) of the World Bank, finance expert, economist and international development professional with more than 30 years of experience, to nominate her for the position.
Nigeria’s former Finance Minister, Okonjo-Iweala, has warned that recession and difficult times are ahead amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Iweala said this during an interview.
She urged the Buhari-led government and other African countries to diversify the economy and look for other means of revenue as difficult times are ahead occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
When asked on the effect of oil prices on economies around the world, Iweala said: “What Nigerian government needs to do is to make the economy less dependent on these commodities and that is why for the longer time, restructure the economy so that you can also have other sources to create job for the people, other sources where you can tap revenues.
The former minister advised that Nigeria and other African countries’ economies have a lot of sectors like agriculture, tourism, and creative industries to diversify into to make the economy work.
” It is not just diversifying your economy but also diversifying your sources of revenue.
“This is what our country is going to look at now and start planning about how they are going to do better in the future,” Iweala added.
“2020 spilling into 2021 is going to be a difficult year but I believe that if the world acts as one, if countries do not retreat into nationalism, populism, we will all have the resources to deal with these issues and help countries that do not have enough.”
Former Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, joined other members of her family to lay their father, the late Obi of Ogwashi-Uku, Aniocha South Local Government Area of Delta State, Chukwuka Okonjo, to rest today December 21st.
The monarch who was a Mathematics professor, died in Septemer in Lagos at the age of 91.
In attendance at the funeral were Delta state governor Ifeanyi Okowa, former governor of Ogun State, Gbenga Daniels, and the pioneer chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nuhu Ribadu.