Nigerian president vows ‘to push’ until Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala becomes World Trade Organization Director-General

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Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday assured the country’s former Minister of Finance and Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, that his administration will explore ‘every opportunity’ and deploy ‘its entire energy’ to ensure that she becomes the Director-General of World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Dr Okonjo-Iweala is one of two candidates contesting for the top position of the multilateral institution.

President Buhari, who received the former Managing Director (Operations) of the World Bank at the Presidential Villa, said she deserved more support to get the top job because of her profile and diligence in serving the country, and the world.

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“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,’’ he added.

The President assured Dr 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 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 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 Ministers of 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,’’ she said, “I am very proud of the country.’’

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