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First woman, first African: Nigeria’s Okonjo-Iweala set to be named WTO boss

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Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala looks set to be confirmed Monday as the first woman and first African leader of the beleaguered World Trade Organization, a near-paralysed institution desperately needing a kick-start.

 

The WTO has called a special general council meeting at which the former Nigerian finance minister and World Bank veteran is expected to be formally selected as the global trade body’s new director-general.

US President Joe Biden strongly swung behind her candidacy shortly after the only other remaining contender, South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee, pulled out.

“I look forward to finalising the process,” Okonjo-Iweala said on February 6 after securing the Biden administration’s support.

 

The organisation is also eager to conclude the drawn-out process, having been leaderless since Brazilian career diplomat Roberto Azevedo stepped down last August, a year ahead of schedule.

The process of picking one of eight candidates to succeed him had been expected to wrap up by November, but the administration of former US president Donald Trump blocked the consensus to appoint Okonjo-Iweala.

‘Reform candidate’ 

The 66-year-old will not be at the WTO’s Geneva headquarters for Monday’s virtual session and it is not known when she would take up her duties.

The 164-member organisation’s special session gets under way at 1400 GMT and Okonjo-Iweala is scheduled to hold an online press conference two hours later.

The WTO picks its leaders through consensus-finding, so even though she is the only candidate still in the race — boasting US, EU and African backing — there is always the chance of a spanner being thrown in the works.

She will take over an organisation mired in multiple crises and struggling to help member states navigate the severe global economic slump triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Okonjo-Iweala argued during the race that she was best placed out of the eight candidates for the post to steer the WTO through the crises.

“I am a reform candidate,” she insisted.

She has among other things warned that growing protectionism and nationalism have been spurred on by the pandemic and insists barriers need to be lowered to help the world recover.

Even before Covid-19 battered the global economy, the WTO was weighed down by stalled trade talks and struggled to curb trade tensions between the United States and China.

The WTO also faced relentless attacks from Washington under Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump. Among other things, Trump brought the WTO’s dispute settlement appeal system to a grinding halt in late 2019.

‘Boldness, courage’ 

Okonjo-Iweala has said her priorities include getting long-blocked trade talks on fishery subsidies across the finish line and breathing life back into WTO’s Appellate Body.

Twice Nigeria’s finance minister (2003-2006 and 2011-2015) and its first female foreign minister in a two-month stint in 2006, Okonjo-Iweala is seen as a trailblazer in her west African homeland.

She has brushed off claims she lacks experience as a trade minister or negotiator, insisting that what is needed to lead the WTO is not technical skills but “boldness, courage”.

She has portrayed herself as a champion against Nigeria’s rampant corruption — saying her own mother was even kidnapped over her attempts to tackle the scourge.

But her critics argue she should have done more to tackle it while in power.

A development economist by training with degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard, Okonjo-Iweala has also had a 25-year career as a development economist at the World Bank, eventually becoming its number two.

She is on the Twitter board of directors and chaired Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

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Nigeria received their first covid-19 vaccine

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A historical moment, Nigeria has just received It’s first wave of Covid-19 vaccine.

The 4 million procured through COVAX is a historical step towards the Nigeria goal To ensure equitable distribution of COVID 19 vaccines globally.

This is an unprecedented global effort to make sure everyone has access to the vaccine.

See photos below

Nigeria

Nigeria


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Willie Obiano disclosed that Herdsmen’s are criminals

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The Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano has said any herdsman found carrying a gun in the state should be treated as a criminal.

The governor said it was unwise to treat criminals with levity, adding that a fresh census for all herdsmen in the state has commenced and that once the exercise was concluded, the state will no longer tolerate itinerant cattle herders settling in the state or even passing through the state with their herds.

Obiano stated this yesterday in a stakeholders’ meeting on security with heads of various communities, security chiefs, traditional rulers and other groups, on the need to maintain security in the state.

He said, “We have done a census of herders in Anambra State last year and they were 77 in number. We are doing a new one now, and after the census, we will never allow itinerant herdsmen to come in again.

“The ones causing trouble are not here (Anambra), they come in from outside. Also, we have heard reports of herdsmen who carry arms. Any herdsmen carrying arms is a criminal and we will not tolerate that. If you find them, report them because they are criminals.

The governor also said that his government takes security seriously, which is the reason the state has been proclaimed the safest in the country. He also added that his administration has been very supportive of security agencies in the state, as security remained everyone’s business.

“Anything about security is number one for me. We thank our security agencies for keeping Anambra on the high as the safest state in Nigeria.

“I have distributed over 520 vehicles to security agencies in the state and I made a designated petrol station where you go to take fuel to avoid saying you don’t have fuel when you get distress calls. Today, every police vehicle you see running around is fueled by me,” he said.


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Governor Obiano Mourns the Death of Chimamanda Adichie mother’s death

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Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano has expressed deep sadness over the sudden death of Mrs. Grace Ifeoma Adichie, mother of the famous novelist and writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Reacting to the sad news, Governor Obiano said he was grieved by Mrs Adichie’s death, upon hearing of it.

“I was saddened by the sad news of Mrs Adichie’s death and I sympathize with her children and the entire Adichie family who are again thrown into mourning just a few months after burying their father, Prof James Adichie. This is indeed a grievous loss.

“Mrs Adichie lived a life of selfless service. Her contribution and great service to Anambra State will not be forgotten. I pray for the peaceful repose of her soul”, he said.

Mrs Adichie was a member of the Anambra State Universal Basic Education Board, ASUBEB and a former registrar of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. She died on Monday, March 1st, 2021. She was 78 years old


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