WTO: Former British PM, Gordon Brown, Endorses Okonjo-Iweala

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

By Adedayo Akinwale

A former British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, has endorsed former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to lead the World Trade Organisation (WTO) as its Director General.

The government of Nigeria had on June 9, 2020, nominated Okonjo-Iweala for the post of WTO Director-General to succeed the current Director-General, Mr. Roberto Azevêdo, who had announced he would step down on 31 August 2020.

However, her candidature received a major boost when Brown said the two-time Nigeria’s former Finance Minister had a record of delivering results in “the toughest of jobs”.

British newspaper, The Times, in its report quoted the former prime minister to have said that Okonjo-Iweala would make an “outstanding success” of running the Swiss-based regulator, which he said was facing an existential crisis while searching for its next director-general and grappling with the global economic disruption caused by Covid-19.

Brown emphasised that Okonjo-Iweala is respected “across the whole of the world.”

The former Nigerian finance minister, has been leading the board of Gavi, the global vaccine alliance.

Okonjo-Iweala said leading WTO, would afford her the opportunity to serve all the countries in the world and because she has the skills for the job.

She added: “I believe WTO is one of the most important multi-lateral bodies in the world despite the challenges it faces and the reforms that need to be done. I believe it is very relevant for the economic development, growth and sharing of prosperity in the world.

“I want the job because I think I have the skills for it. I think the organization needs some reforms to make it relevant for times we are in and I have a reputation as a strong reformer. I have actually written a book titled ‘Reforming the Reformable,’ where we undertook certain reforms with a team in Nigeria. I am also a person with strong negotiation skills. I have a career of over 30 years for constantly being involved in negotiating an important agreement between countries.”