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Okonjo-Iweala makes first visit to Nigeria as WTO Director-General

The Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has made her first visit to Nigeria since she assumed office.

She was received upon her arrival in the country on Saturday by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Nasir Sani-Gwarzo.

Okonjo-Iweala told reporters in Abuja, the nation’s capital that her visit to Nigeria was to show appreciation to President Muhammadu Buhari for the support accorded her.

She also hinted that discussion on how Nigeria can leverage her position to benefit from trans-national trade formed part of her visit to the country.

In this photo taken on March 13, 2021, the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, is seen with a girl and others shortly after arriving in Nigeria. Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

Okonjo-Iweala’s visit to Nigeria comes about a month after she was confirmed as the Director-General of the global trade organisation.

As the first woman and first African to lead the international body, her term began on March 1 and would last until the next four years.

The term, which is renewable, will expire on August 31, 2025.

In the journey to become the director-general of the WTO, Okonjo-Iweala had the backing of the majority of the member-countries of the organisation.

She, however, vied for the job with the Republic of Korea’s Trade Minister, Yoo Myung-hee, who enjoyed the support of former United States President Donald Trump to become the WTO DG.

The Korean minister later announced on February 5 that she was abandoning her bid to lead the international trade body, leading to Okonjo-Iweala’s emergence as the sole candidate for the job.

Following the withdrawal, the U.S. government through its Trade Representative expressed its “strong support” for the candidacy of Okonjo-Iweala as the Director-General of the WTO.

Okonjo-Iweala, 66, was nominated as Nigeria’s candidate to lead the WTO by President Muhammadu Buhari in June 2020.

She is a Nigerian-American economist and international development expert who has a 25-year career at the World Bank, scaling the ranks to the second top position of Managing Director, Operations.

The Delta State-born economist served two terms as the minister of finance under former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan respectively.

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