Nigeria’s former Finance Minister Ngozi OkonjoIweala is on the verge of shattering the glass ceiling in World Trade Organisation, but her chances now rely on a wing and a prayer.
After securing the support of 140 of the 164 member countries, the MIT trained expert was a step to becoming the first woman and African to head the world body. The US, however, shifted the goal posts because its candidate, Japanese Trade Minister Yeo Myung-hee, lost.
In a statement it made available Wednesday, the US said Myung-hee is better suited for the job because she is “a bona fide trade expert who has distinguished herself during a 25-year career as a successful trade negotiator and trade policy maker.”
“This is a very difficult time for the WTO and international trade,” the statement said.
“There have been no multilateral tariff negotiations in 25 years, the dispute settlement system has gotten out of control, and too few members fulfill basic transparency obligations.
The US objection has therefore stalled process.
This is not the first time the north American country will pull the plug on a Nigerian about to clinch the topmost job in a multilateral global institution.
Africa Development Bank’s President Akinwunmi Adesina had a similar experience when the US rep on the banks board governors made a coordinated attempt to tarnish Adesina’s integrity.
While the bank’s ethics committee even cleared him of wrong doing after looking into the allegation, the US still opposed the board’s findings, and called for an independent investigator.
Adesina was eventually cleared, and he won his second term unopposed.
According to the WTO, Okonjo-Iweala’s candidacy would be put to a meeting of the body’s governing general council on November 9.