Nigeria’s former Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has been appointed as the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation.
Okonjo-Iweala, whose tenure begins March 1, is the first woman and African to hold the position.
The former minister was endorsed by President Muhammadu Buhari in June 2020 as Nigeria’s candidate for the position of Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which was officially acknowledged in June.
WTO announced at the beginning of October 2020 that South Korea’s trade minister Yoo Myung-hee and the former Nigerian finance minister qualified as the two finalists to become the next director-general, and Ngozi gathered 104 votes from 164 member countries to defeat South Korea’s trade minister.
Ngozi who was also named Forbes Africa’s African Person of the Year 2020 was expected to be announced as the winner according to Bloomberg, but WTO hit a major roadblock with the Trump administration which categorically said it will not back the appointment of Ngozi, meaning that the U.S. would act as a veto to disrupt the process.
Ngozi’s regained the chance of being World Trade Organization’s Director-General earlier in February when Yoo Myung-hee in a televised briefing, stated her decision to retreat from the race after “close consultation” with the United States, adding that the WTO “had been without a leader for too long” since Director-General Roberto Azevêdo announced he was stepping down on 31 August 2020.