Friday, February 5, 2021

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala: Nigeria's hope to head the WTO

Twice Nigeria's finance minister and its first woman foreign minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has been described as a trailblazer.Now the 66-year-old is looking to make more history as she bids to become the first African and woman to head the World Trade Organization (WTO).

AFP

Aside from her time in public office, the development economist had a quarter-century at the World Bank -- rising to be managing director and running for the top role in 2012.

Born in 1954 in Ogwashi Ukwu, in Delta State, western Nigeria, her father is a traditional ruler. She spent much of her life in the United States, graduating from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard, where she sent her four children.

The former minister has portrayed herself as a champion against Nigeria's rampant corruption -- and says her own mother was even kidnapped over her attempts to tackle the scourge.

But critics insist she should have done more to stop it while in power.

Okonjo-Iweala has also brushed off claims she lacks experience as a trade minister or negotiator.

She was recently named the African Union's special envoy to mobilise international support for the continent's efforts to address the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

Okonjo-Iweala has warned that growing protectionism and nationalism have been spurred on by the crisis and insists barriers need to be lowered to help the world recover.

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