President Muhammadu Buhari has reassured Nigeria’s former Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, of the country’s determination to ensure that she becomes the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Okonjo-Iweala and South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee advanced to the final round in the race to lead the Geneva-based trade body.
Malam Garba Shehu, the president’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, in a statement, said that Buhari gave the assurance when he received Okonjo-Iweala at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Monday.
He said that the former minister deserved more support to get the top job because of her profile and diligence in serving the country and the world at large.
“I assure you that we will do all that we can to ensure that you emerge as the Director-General of WTO, not only because you are a Nigerian, but because you are a hardworking Nigerian. You deserve this,’’ he added.
The president assured Okonjo-Iweala that he would make more phone calls, and send letters to some world leaders for more support.
“I did the same for Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, the President of the African Development Bank.
“Both of you served the country under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). You are both highly qualified. We will continue to support you. I will immediately make those calls,’’ he assured Okonjo-Iweala.
In her remarks, Okonjo-Iweala, a renowned development economist, thanked the president and his ministers, particularly the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Industry, Trade and Investment, for supporting her staunchly.
“I feel very proud of Nigeria. I am getting so much support from you, Mr President, Chief of Staff, Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Ministers of Industry, Trade and Investments.
“The ministers have been working round the clock to ensure that I succeed,’’ she said.
The former Minister also appreciated ECOWAS leaders for their endorsement, mentioning in particular the outstanding contributions of President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger Republic and President Alhassan Quattara of Cote d’Ivoire.
She asked the president to “make one final push within the week to beat the Koreans and bring this to Nigeria by sending a few letters and placing telephone calls to some world leaders and also thank others for their support.
“Mr President, put a smile on my face. I am very proud of the country,’’ she added.