Ngozi Okonjo Iweala: Meet The New Director-General Of The World Trade Organization

A great deal of inspiration can be drawn from looking at the life of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Nigerian economist, who has been selected to be the next African World Trade Organization director-general.

The measure of success she has been able to attain within 66-years of being on earth is quite admirable and she is a role model for millions of women around the globe.

Dr Okonjo-Iweala, who was born on the 13th of June 1954 in Ogwashi-Ukwu, Delta State, Nigeria, sits on the Boards of Standard Chartered Bank, Twitter, Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), and the African Risk Capacity (ARC).

Information Nigeria gathered that she possesses dual citizenship; Nigeria and US.

The Harvard-educated economist is also married to a neurosurgeon, Dr. Ikemba Iweala and they are parents to four children.

Her achievements are countless as she is the receipt of honorary degrees from 15 universities worldwide, including some from the most prestigious colleges. She has also bagged numerous recognition and awards.

She is the author of several articles and books.

Dr Okonjo-Iweala pursued a 25-year career at the World Bank in Washington DC as a development economist, where she held the post of Vice President and corporate secretary.

In 2003, the global finance expert was made the Minister of Finance under President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration and her impact was felt as she and her team succeeded in doing notable projects including building electronic financial management platform for the government. She briefly became Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2006.

Dr Okonjo-Iweala was reappointed as Finance Minister during President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration in 2011, with expanded portfolio of the coordinating Minister of the Economy.

The international development expert is known for being the first and black candidate to contest for the presidency of World Bank Group in 2012.

After leaving government, Okonjo-Iweala became a member of the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity from 2015-2016.

Afterwards, she was appointed as a Managing Director of World Bank Group where she led several World Bank initiatives to assist low-income countries during food and financial crises.

Okonjo-Iweala has been serving as co-chair of the Global Commission for the Economy and Climate, with Nicholas Stern and Paul Polman. In January 2016, she was appointed the Chair-elect of the Board of Gavi of the World Health Organization.

She is the founder of Nigeria’s first indigenous opinion-research organization, NOI-Polls and the Center for the Study of Economies of Africa (C-SEA).

Since 2019, Okonjo-Iweala has been part of UNESCO’s International Commission on the Futures of Education.

In 2020, the International Monetary Fund’s Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva appointed her to an external advisory group to provide input on policy challenges.

She was also appointed by the African Union (AU) as special envoy to solicit international support to help the continent deal with the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In June, President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria nominated Okonjo-Iweala as the country’s candidate to be director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

She later advanced to the election’s final round, eventually competing with South Korea’s candidate and trade minister, Yoo Myung-hee.

Ahead of the vote, she received the full support of the European Union for her candidacy.

On Wednesday, a WTO nominations committee recommended that the group’s 164 members appoint Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

However, the appointment of Nigeria’s ex-finance minister to lead the World Trade Organization (WTO) has been called into question after the US failed to endorse her despite being a bonafide citizen of the country.

The General Counsel has postponed its announcement of the new Director-General until further meet which is scheduled for November 9 after the US presidential elections.

If Dr Okonjo-Iweala succeeds, she would be the first woman and first African to lead the WTO.