A Nigerian diplomat, Ambassador Joe Keshi, has called on the federal government to reach out to the US and find out the country’s reasons for its rejection of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and commence negotiations.
Okonjo-Iweala had secured 163 of the 164 members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and was on the way to being declared the new Director General of the trade organisation on Wednesday, but saw a lone opposition in the form of the US.
Okonjo-Iweala, a former Nigeria finance minister could not be declared the head of the WTO due to the objection, with the US citing lack of experience and procedural issues.
Ambassador Keshi, who as Nigeria’s consul general in Atlanta, dealt with the Americans diplomatically for many years, said the US government will have little or no influence over the outcome if the Nigerian government reaches out to her allies and ensure they stand firm in their support for Okonjo-Iweala.
“What the Nigerian government needs to do is to reach out to our friends who have remained with us since day one and make sure they stand firm.
“If they remain steady in their support for Ngozi, I can assure you there is nothing much the Americans will do and even if for the first time they decide to break the rules of the organisation and go and vote, I have a strong feeling that Ngozi will still win,” Ambassador Keshi said when he appeared on ARISE News.
By the organisation’s selection rules, its DG has to emerge by consensus. But the majority, according to sources close to the process, may assert its will at the general meeting of the organisation scheduled for November 9, using a proviso that allows a vote in the event of failure of consensus.
Ms. Yoo Myung-hee of South Korea, backed by the US, is Okonjo-Iweala’s sole opponent and boasts of 25-years of experience in the country’s trade sector but Ambassador Keshi described Okonjo-Iweala as a global citizen.
“If she (Myung-hee) boasts of 25 years of experience, Ngozi could boast more than 25 years of experience in the world bank, as the Nigerian Minister for finance for several years.
“And then she can look at her track record of all the organisations around the world that Ngozi is a board member, so when you talk of experience and then she also parades herself as a reformer and let me put it this way Ngozi is a global citizen.
“Almost every country on the planet is supporting her except one, how do you explain that? It’s because they know her, they believe in her, they trust in her and they are aware of her track record.
“In any case, because you (Myung-hee of South Korea) have been in trade for 25 years and you have been involved in WTO that’s precisely why as many others have observed that organisation is in crisis,” Ambassador Keshi said.