President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday assured former minister of Finance and Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, that the country will explore every opportunity and deploy its entire energy to ensure that she becomes the director-general of World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Okonjo-Iweala is one of the two candidates contesting for the top position of the multilateral institution.
Buhari who received the former managing director (Operations) of the World Bank at the presidential villa said she deserved more support to get the WTO top job because of her profile and diligence in serving the country and the world.
“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,” a statement by presidential spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, quoted the president as telling the WTO DG candidate.
Buhari assured Okonjo-Iweala that he will make more phone calls, and send letters to some world leaders for more support.
“I did the same for Dr Akinwunmi Adesina when he ran for president of the African Development Bank (AfDB). 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 told Dr Okonjo-Iweala.
In her remarks, Dr Okonjo-Iweala, a renowned development economist, thanked the president and his ministers, particularly the ministers of Foreign Affairs, and Industry, Trade and Investment for supporting her staunchly.
“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,’’ she said.
The former minister of Finance also appreciated 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 asked 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,” she added.
The presidents of West African countries had earlier endorsed the former Finance Minister, who was nominated by President Buhari for the WTO job, based on her sterling qualities.
The leaders had conveyed their support during the 57th Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Niamey, Republic of Niger.
The minister of Industry, Adebayo, also inaugurated a Campaign Strategy Team for the former Minister of Finance last July, which he said was key to ensuring that Nigeria emerged as WTO Director-General for 2021 – 2025 term.
“The decision to support the former minister was informed by the overriding consideration of the need to boost Africa’s chance and for the promotion of gender mainstreaming at the world’s top trade post,” Adebayo noted.
By Jonathan Nda- Isaiah,