President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday gave former Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s total backing to emerge as the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation.
He said the reason wasn’t because the former Managing Director (Operations) of the World Bank was a Nigerian, but because she deserved to occupy the position by merit.
The former minister had visited Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, where they held a meeting.
“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 hard-working Nigerian.
“You deserve this”, Buhari told Okonjo-Iweala.
Giving her further assurances, the President said that he would continue to make more telephone calls and canvass votes for Okonjo-Iweala.
“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”, he added.
The former minister is one of two final leading contenders for the plum position.
Okonjo-Iweala and South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee had scaled the hurdles to the final stage of the selection process on October 7, 2020.
Okonjo-Iweala had visited Buhari in company with the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo, and the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Zubair Dada.
Responding to Buhari’s assurances, the development economist thanked the president and his cabinet for the support she had received so far.
“I feel very proud of Nigeria, my country. 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 State House said the former minister 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 Alassane Ouattara of Cote d’Ivoire.
According to presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, she urged Buhari to “make one final push within the week to beat the Koreans and bring this to Nigeria and to you by sending a few letters and placing telephone calls to some world leaders, while thanking others for their support.”
Continuing, Okonjo-Iweala stated, “Mr President, put a smile on my face…I am very proud of the country.”