WTO: Okonjo-Iweala Invites Volunteers for Her Campaign

Ngozi Okonjo Iweala

* Insists she’s the best for the job

Peter Uzoho

Nigeria’s candidate for the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has said she is looking for volunteers to assist her campaign for the high-profile position in public relations and other areas.

The two-time Nigerian Minister of Finance stated this during an interview on Arise Television’s prime news programme, News Night Nigeria, which was monitored in Abuja last night.

According to Okonjo-Iweala, whose campaign has electrified the race and attracted the endorsement of the West Africa bloc, the practical support of volunteers was necessary because she lacks the resources to engage public relations firms and lobbyists that other candidates might be using.

“So far, things are going well and I’m grateful for the support of the government and Nigerians. I don’t have any PR firm working for me. I have some friends who are helping with media work pro-bono because I cannot afford to pay them. It would be nice to have some volunteers,” she added.

She described the claim by Egypt’s candidate for the WTO that her nomination was outside the rules of the African Union as absolutely not true, pointing out that the WTO has formally accepted her nomination because the position of the Egyptian candidate is faulty.

She expressed gratitude to the Nigerian government, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Trade as well as other agencies for their strong support.

On her qualification for the coveted job, Okonjo-Iweala declared “I am the best woman for the job”, citing her decades-long expertise as a development economist with extensive hands-on expertise in trade, her leadership skills as a pragmatic consensus builder and her global network of associates, partners and friends, which would stand her in good stead on the job.

Okonjo Iweala described WTO as a critical global organisation that needs to be reformed in key areas like dispute resolution, adding that its effectiveness will be enhanced if it becomes more inclusive by supporting women, MSMEs etc.

On the US-China disagreements that have paralysed the organisation, Okonjo-Iweala stated that she has the experience to find areas of unanimity and mutual benefit and using them as a foundation to tackle more serious challenges.

Okonjo-Iweala is a renowned global finance expert, an economist and international development professional with over 30 years of experience, having worked in Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America, and North America.

She is presently the Chair of the Board of GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance. Since its creation in 2000, GAVI has immunised over 760 million children across the globe. She also sits on the boards of Standard Chartered Plc and Twitter Inc. She was recently appointed African Union Special Envoy to mobilise international financial support in the fight against COVID-19, as well as Envoy for the World Health Organisation’s access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator.