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NGOZI OKONJO-IWEALA AT THE WTO HQ IN GENEVA — Remember the trade wars of the past — we don’t want that, we want peace, security, and stability.’’ – Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

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NGOZI OKONJO-IWEALA AT THE WTO HQ IN GENEVA — ‘’Remember the trade wars of the past — we don’t want that.“We want peace, security, and stability.’’ – Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

  • As APC Governors’ Forum endorses the former finance minister
  • ALL EYES ON Okonjo-Iweala …. Why she could emerge WTO DG

FORMER finance minister in Nigeria has enjoyed wide support for the job from her home country as she is expected to defeat seven other contenders. The contenders will make 15-minute presentations to the 164 member states’ representatives at the WTO headquarters in Geneva, before facing a 75-minute grilling over their plans for the global trade body. The two times finance minister in Nigeria has enjoyed wide support for the job from her home country as she is expected to defeat seven other contenders. The contenders started making 15-minute presentations to the 164 member states’ representatives at the WTO headquarters in Geneva. They will later facing 75-minute grilling sessions over their plans for the global trade body.

PROCESSES: After a series of eliminations based on consensus, starting in September, the winner will take the WTO wheel in the midst of a global economic crisis triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. The new leader will also have to sort out simmering trade tensions between the United States and China and revive stalled trade talks. Addressing the Geneva meeting on her understanding of the job schedule, Iweala stated that: “I would say to the president that the WTO delivered for all countries, including the United States in the past,” she said “It is because of the multilateral rules-based trading system that we have had prosperity and lifting of millions out of poverty, and it’s been shared prosperity.

Ngozi assures that: ”We could do it again. I would say to him or him that where the trading system has failed, we need to fix it so that it can be more inclusive, it can benefit more people.“Surely, it is not the time now to leave the WTO that matters, we need an institution that can promote a rules-based system. Remember the trade wars of the past — we don’t want that.“We want peace, security, and stability. That is why the WTO is needed, with its ability to arbitrate disputes within members. “Don’t leave now, let’s try to fix what needs fixing, and if we didn’t have the WTO, we would have to invent it. That is what I would say to him.” She also reiterated her experience in trade, development economics, finance, and how she remains the most qualified candidate for the WTO top job.

MUHAMMADU BUHARI’s  DEFT DIPLOMATIC MANEUVER: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s  nomination is viewed by observers as the product of a deft diplomatic maneuver by President Muhammadu Buhari backed by intense diplomatic moves by experts who pulled the levers behind the scene for Okonjo-Iweala’s emergence to cause a stir because of her competence, wide exposure and huge experience in the multilateral community.  Watchers contend that it is a product of dispassionate recommendations to Mr. President by experts. This stresses the importance of putting a square peg in a square hole for the common good. Even before the selection process formally commenced, countries and regions began moving on the issue of which region should produce the WTO DG, candidate’s credentials etc. There appears to be consensus in Africa that the position that has never come to the poorest continent should be released to Africa as compensation for the control of the most two powerful financial institutions, the World bang Group and the International Monetary Fund that control the lever of the global economy.

THE NELSON MANDELA OBSERVATION: Famed Nelson Mandela’s position on Nigeria favours Ngozi Okonjo Iweala who also assists South Africa in fixing her economy. Mandela had pointed out that Nigeria occupies a strategic position in Africa and should take the lead in making the whole world respect the black race all over the world. Mandela stated that the whole world will not respect Africa except Nigeria takes the lead and earn the respect for Africa and African Diaspora. President Bill Clinton, a proponent of Globalization and sympathizer of Africa once stated in Johannesburg that: ‘’For the first time in history the rest of the world is interested in working not for or against Africa, but working with Africa, listening to you, looking to you, and learning from you. One lesson we all have to learn from Mr Mandela is how to build a community across divisions of race, religion and tribe. We do live in a world so interdependent that more email is sent everyday than postal mail, and a sneeze in Hong Kong leads to a in Toronto.’’

Clinton continued: ‘’But the very advances that have brought our world together – transportation, open borders, the internet – have been exploited by terrorists to tear our world apart. So, this is an exciting, but still unequal and unstable world. Yes, globalization has lifted more people out of poverty in the last 20 years than any point in history, but half the world’s people still live on less than $2 a day and a billion of them will go to bed hungry tonight.’’  I personally believe that Bill Clinton should join the Ngozi Okonjo-Iwela’s campaign train given his love for Globalization, deep knowledge about Africa and her potentials while Hillary Clinton knows very well the competencies and inherent capabilities of Nigeria’s candidate. Let it also be noted that Nigeria has contributed its quota monumentally to activities of the United Nations system. It has also played the role of a somewhat hyperactive member of the African Union. Nigeria’s preeminent role in sub-Saharan Africa (and in Africa as a whole) makes it mandatory for it to show a keen interest in the activities of member nations of the African Union. PIX below: Helping Soth Africa to put its economy in good shape .. with President Rhamaphosa

OKONJO IWEALA-A GLOBA;  BUT AFRICA DESERVES TO BE COMPENSATED – KOFII ANNAN’S PLEA FOR AFRICA .. Not only should Africa be compensated, but the whole world should also look in the direction of Nigeria and get Ngozi to occupy that position. Nigeria shoulders too heavy a burden for the sake of Africa. Former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, whom I always describe as a leader who saw tomorrow, once delivered his usual inspiring speech on economic development in Africa. He asserted that: ‘In fact, it is only through multilateral institutions that states can hold each other to account.  And that makes it very important to organize those institutions in a fair and democratic way, giving the poor and the weak some influence over the actions of the rich and the strong. That applies particularly to the international financial institutions, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Developing countries should have a stronger voice in these bodies, whose decisions can have almost a life-or-death impact on their fate. And it also applies to the UN Security Council, whose membership still reflects the reality of 1945, not of today’s world.

Annan continued: That is why I have continued to press for Security Council reform. But reform involves two separate issues. One is that new members should be added, on a permanent or long-term basis, to give greater representation to parts of the world that have a limited voice today. The other, perhaps even more important, is that all Council members, and especially the major powers who are permanent members, must accept the special responsibility that comes with their privilege. The Security Council is not just another stage on which to act out national interests. It is the management committee, if you will, of our fledgling collective security system. As President Truman said, “The responsibility of the great states is to serve and not dominate the peoples of the world.” He showed what can be achieved when the US assumes that responsibility. And still today, none of our global institutions can accomplish much when the US remains aloof. But when it is fully engaged, the sky is the limit.’’

And increasingly, this growth is being used to diversify economies and invest in the bedrock of successful societies – in education, in health and vital infrastructure. This is not the picture of Africa that is normally painted in the global media. Too often we hear the stereotype of a broken continent, stricken by disease, war, and poverty –  A stereotype, too, in which problems in one country infect opinions of the continent as a whole.  Curiously, the reverse is rarely true. Direct foreign investment has soared from $9 billion in 2000 to $52 billion in 2011. This momentum is expected to continue and can be accelerated if we tackle remaining barriers to progress by investing in energy and infrastructure, and strengthening regional integration.  Improved regional integration is essential to increase trade within Africa, which stands at just 10% of total trade compared to 67% within the EU. — Kofi Annan on the future of Africa.

There is debate about the role and impact of painful macroeconomic reforms which were encouraged and, in some cases, forced on African countries by the Bretton Woods institutions. It is now widely acknowledged that these structural adjustment programmes had terrible consequences socially and institutionally. But the fiscal discipline they put in place helped to cushion African economies against external shocks, encouraged the growth of reserves and well-regulated banking sectors. It is clear, too, that another major reason for increased investment and growth has been Africa’s natural resources and its attractiveness to emerging economies, particularly China. With at least 10% of the world’s oil and gas reserves, 40% of its gold, and 80% of its chromium and platinum, Africa is well placed to continue to benefit from the wealth beneath its surface and the boom in commodity prices.

We are not viewing Ngozi from the prism of a mere African. Ngozi is a global citizen with invaluable experiences and pedigree that stands her out to be able to take the World Trade Organisation through this depressing and difficult post-CIVD-19 era. OkonjoIweala is a development economist with a huge repertoire of outings in multilateral organisations, as well as the public and private sectors. She is evidently the candidate to beat given her brilliance, exposure, and wide-ranging contacts that could be cultivated for the global community as the DG of the WTO.

NOI .. go ahead and win .. NOI.  We are solidly behind you and God will see you through

As APC Governors’ Forum endorse the former finance minister Governors elected under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have endorsed Okonjo-Iweala for World Trade Organisation’s Director-General whose race commenced today for the occupation of the coveted seat in September, 2020.  The association’s chairman who is also Kebbi State Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku Bagudu stated  that  the emergence of Okonjo-Iweala as head of the WTO will usher in an era of prosperity for Africa.

Gov. Abubakar Bagudu urged President Muhammadu Buhari to lobby other African and world leaders towards ensuring the victory of Okonjo-Iweala. According to him, the emergence of Okonjo-Iweala as head of the WTO will usher in an era of prosperity for Africa in particular and the world in general. Bagudu said that the forum believed that the world will be more united with Okonjo-Iweala at the saddle of the WTO. Atiku-Bagudu commended President Muhammadu Buhari for nominating the former Minister of Finance, describing her candidacy as not only the best to the world but also a presentation of a credible person with integrity.

“In nominating our own Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, President Buhari is not just presenting a Nigerian Candidate but is presenting to the world one of its best, albeit from Nigeria, and one who is eminently qualified to lead the task of fixing the world trading system. “An economist, international development expert, and a global public servant, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala is one candidate that comes with all the experiences and expertise required to reposition the WTO. Both President Buhari and Dr. Okonjo-Iweala deserve commendation for giving the world the opportunity towards correcting the distortions in the world trading system.

“I am privileged to have interacted with Okonjo-Iweala during her 2011 Senate confirmation hearings as Minister of Finance as well as the in a 2013 negotiation between the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Federal Government over the implementation of an agreement which led to the closure of Universities for a long time. In both, she was at her best. “Africa matters, not least because it remains the least developed continent but has a young and growing population that is willing to join the world. Equally African countries and indeed many other developing countries have been responsible for trading partners that give an opportunity to others.

They also seek more opportunities from others, and occasionally the two worlds may seem to differ in their views but Okonjo-Iweala is able to make the case for both. She is capable of energizing the World Trade Organisation and give confidence to all countries of the world that we shall be more prosperous together,’ Bagudu said. According to the forum, the main objective of establishing the World Trade Organization is to create a trading system that is equitable and with least distortions but lamented that, despite being an improvement on the Agreement on Trade and Tariffs GATT, the WTO is yet to deliver in achieving the objectives. Worst still is that it is perceived as impotent.

The forum Chairman noted that: “the exit of UK from EU and the brickbat between the US and China is illustrative of the difficulties with bilateral trade agreements talk more of a global one. The failure of the WTO to reach an agreement on agriculture, for example, is punitive to all of Africa. “Whoever imagined that one country can ‘seize’ medical supplies going to other countries? Fixing the global trading system is one of the most important challenges of our time and doing so shall contribute to global prosperity more than any agreement. In so doing poverty shall be reduced and global prosperity shall be more equitably shared. Reforming the World Trade Organization is at the heart of any of such quest, and thus the choice of the next leader of the Organization matters.

RACE FORMALLY COMMENCES WITH DEBATE Over the next few months members will try to pick between eight candidates, each hoping to rescue the institution from its present sorry state. The process will highlight some of the wto’s best features—but will also show why the organisation is in such a mess. Fans of the multilateral trading system boast about its openness. In line with that principle, the top job at the WTO is not sewn up for a European or an American, unlike those at the imf or the World Bank. In fact, there are no candidates from America, China, the European Union, India or Japan. Nominations range from Egypt and Moldova to Mexico and South Korea..

He was followed by Renato Ruggiero, who was Italy’s Foreign Minister. He was then followed by Mike Moore of New Zealand, who held several Ministerial posts and became Prime Minister. After him was Supachai Panitchpakdi who was once the Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand. Following him was Pascal Lamy France, who worked closely with the famed Jacques Delors eventually becoming EU’s Commissioner for Trade. With the stalemate in the Doha negotiations, the members decided to give a career diplomat with an engineering background the nod to lead the organization.