Despite having all the qualities needed to head the World Trade Organisation, Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala could face a daunting task in realising that goal as the African Union considers two other candidates from the continent for the position.
A former Finance Minister in Nigeria and currently sitting on the board of Twitter on top of previously being the number two person at the World Bank, Okonjo-Iweala has all the requisite experience needed to head the WTO but the politics among African leaders could see her lose out completely.
According to a recent report by POLITICO, there are two other candidates being considered by the African Union and this could both hamper Okonjo-Iweala’s chances of securing the job or Africa’s opportunity to clinch the position to other continents also vying for the spot.
According to the POLITICO, Africa is well-positioned to land the world’s leading trade job but only if its politicians can rally behind a unifying candidate.
At the close of nominations at 6:00pm in Geneva, Switzerland, on Wednesday, three out of the eight candidates to head the WTO are Africans but this three-way split poses immediate hurdles for the continent’s chances.
According to the publication, the African candidates are boosted by a growing consensus in Geneva that it was time for an African trade chief as the continent had never held the post while other regions such as Europe have held it several times.
However, both African representatives in Geneva and officials of the African Union have failed to back a single candidate so far.
The main process starts in mid-July when the WTO’s highest body, the General Council, meets the candidates for the first time, according to a document distributed to delegations and seen by POLITICO.
Naturally, much will depend on which candidates are supported by the United States, the European Union and China, the key trade players.
An analysis by POLITICO rates both Okonjo-Iweala and Amina Mohamed of Kenya 8/10 to succeed in the race for the job while the other African in the frame, Hamid Mamdouh of Egypt has 6/10 chance of emerging the head of the global organisation.
Recall that on June 18, 2020, SaharaReporters exclusively reported that the African Union had disqualified Okonjo-Iweala from vying for the office of the Director General of the World Trade Organisation after Nigeria used her to replace its earlier candidate, Fedrick Agah.
In a document from the Office of the Legal Counsel of the African Union, Reference Number: BC/OLC/24/5056.20 dated June 15, 2020 and sighted by SaharaReporters, the AU said the nomination of Okonjo-Iweala violated Rule (11), 1, 2 and 3, Rule 12 and Rule 15(3) of the rules of procedure of the committee on candidatures within the International System of the organisation.
In addition, the AU said Nigeria’s nomination of Okonjo-Iweala did not meet the submission deadline and there were no more vacancies into, which the country could make nomination.
These could all combine to knock Okonjo-Iweala out of reckoning in the race especially after Kenya’s Amina Mohamed is seen as a viable candidate for the position with all the needed experience.