New Director General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on Saturday, arrived Nigeria on a five-day working visit, about two weeks after she assumed leadership of the global body.
The visit, designed to enable her appreciate the support of the federal government towards her emergence would see her hold discussions with President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday, March 15.
Also, she has been scheduled to engage other top players in public and private sectors, including ministers on how to leverage the WTO and the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) to improve trade and the economy.
The former Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, who arrived the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja via an Ethiopian airliner with registration number, ET 911, which touched down at exactly 12pm was received by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Nasir Sani-Gwarzo and other top officials of the ministry.
Okonjo-Iweala was accompanied on the visit from Geneva, Switzerland by some ambassadors, including those from the Republic of Barbados and Cameroon.
Shortly after the airport formalities at the presidential wing of the airport, she was driven in a motorcade to her private residence in Abuja.
In a brief interview with journalists, the WTO DG said her visit was to see how to better leverage the WTO and AfCFTA to assist Nigeria and entrepreneurs to improve the economy, expressing optimism that Nigeria could use the AfCFTA to boost trade and investment.
She said: “I am not going to give you all the points for the visit today; I know you want them. But what we are trying to do indeed is how to boost Nigeria’s share of trade in Africa. We hope to be able to use the African Continental Free Trade Agreement to improve our trade, and of course, to do that you have to improve our investment.
“We have to add value to some of our products. This continental free trade agreement is a unique opportunity for us to be able to engage commercially with other African nations and that will boost our exports. Then, when you boost exports, you will create more jobs.
“We are also going to talk about digital economy and how our young people are accessing the Internet for e-commerce. Those are some of the issues. What can we do to support more of that and generate more activities?”
On her itinerary, she said she would meet with President Buhari and several top government officials as well as players in the private sectors, including women entrepreneurs.
“I will meet with His Excellency, the President; the Chief of Staff; the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment; the Minister of Foreign Affairs; Minister of Finance; Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Organised Private Sector as well as Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and women entrepreneurs.
“I will like to meet with the women, and the whole objective is to see how the WTO can better assist Nigerian and Nigerian entrepreneurs with respect to improving the economy.”
Speaking on her emergence as the Director General of WTO, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Nasir Sani-Gwarzo, said it was a proud moment for Nigeria and Africa.
Sani-Gwarzo noted that it was a unique moment and opportunity to thank the world for supporting Nigeria to achieve the feat of having a Nigerian as the head of the WTO.
“We have received a lot of support from many countries, we appreciate them. Her visit is specifically to start from home to say thank you to the President and Nigerians, who supported her from home and in the Diaspora.
“Tremendous support has gone into the process and we are grateful that she emerged, after a very thoroughly contested process as the DG. It is a proud moment for Nigeria, for herself and also for women in the world,” Sani-Gwarzo noted.
According to the itinerary of her visit released by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okonjo-Iweala, who assumed office on March 1, 2021 is scheduled to meet with President Buhari; Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed; Minister of Industry Trade and Investment Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo on Monday.
On Tuesday, she is billed to meet with the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele; the Presidential Task on COVID-19 head by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha and the Director General of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chinwe Ihekweazu as well as captains of industries.
The WTO DG is also to meet with women entrepreneurs, and MSMEs players.
Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja