We Will Ensure You Emerge WTO DG, Buhari Assures Okonjo-Iweala

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* Promises to call world leaders on phone for support

By Adedayo Akinwale

President Muhammadu has assured former Minister of Finance and Nigeria’s candidate for the position of director general of the World Trade Organisation, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, that the country will explore every opportunity and deploy its entire energy to ensure that she gets the WTO topmost seat.

Okonjo-Iweala is one of the two candidates in the final stage of the contest for the top position of the multilateral institution. Her only challenger in the final stage is South Korea’s Ms. Yoo Myung-hee.

A statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, issued Monday said the President stated this when he received Okonjo-Iweala, a former Managing Director (Operations) of the World Bank at the Presidential Villa.

The President noted that Okonjo-Iweala deserved more support to get the top job because of her profile and diligence in serving the country and the world.

He said, “I assure you that we will do all that we can to ensure that you emerge as the Director-General of WTO, not only because you are a Nigerian, but because you are a hardworking Nigerian. You deserve this.

“I did the same for Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina for President of the African Development Bank. Both of you served the country under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). You are both highly qualified. We will continue to support you. I will immediately make those calls.”

The President assured Dr Okonjo-Iweala that he would make more phone calls, and send letters to some world leaders for more support.

In her remarks, Okonjo-Iweala, commended the President and his ministers, particularly the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, and Ministers of Industry, Trade and Investment for supporting her staunchly.

According to her, “I feel very proud of Nigeria. I am getting so much support from you, Mr President, Chief of Staff, Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Ministers of Industry, Trade and Investments. The ministers have been working around the clock to ensure that I succeed.”

The former minister also commended ECOWAS leaders for their endorsement, mentioning in particular the outstanding contributions of President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger Republic and immediate past Chairman of ECOWAS as well as President Alhassan Quattara of Cote d’Ivoire.

She urged the President to “make one final push within the week to beat the Koreans and bring this to Nigeria by sending a few letters and placing telephone calls to some world leaders, and also thank others for their support. Mr. President, put a smile on my face. I am very proud of the country.’’