Egypt has asked that Nigeria’s nomination of Ngozi Okonjo-Iwela to contest for the office of the director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) should be rejected, a report has revealed.
Reports emerged on Thursday that President Muhammadu Buhari approved Okonjo-Iweala’s nomination to contest for the position and withdrew the candidacy of Yonov Frederick Agah, Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to WTO.
However, Egypt argued that the timing of Nigeria’s substitution of candidates is past the November 30, 2019 timeline required by African countries to nominate candidates for the WTO Director-General position.
In a letter dated 5 June and addressed to the candidature committee, Egypt – through its Permanent Mission to the African Union – said the Office of Legal Consent opined that Nigeria’s nomination of a new candidate “is not in conformity with the executive council decision”, according to TheCable.
The Egyptian mission said the ministerial committee on candidatures should officially inform the African Group in Geneva that Abdulhameed Mamdouh of Egypt and Eloi Laourou of the Republic of Benin are currently the “only two endorsed African candidates”.
The letter read: “During the ambassadorial level ministerial committee on candidatures meeting which was held on June 4, 2020, the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) gave its legal opinion regarding Nigeria’s nomination of a new candidate to the post of WTO-DG, in which the OLC clearly highlighted that – from a legal point of view- such a nomination is not in conformity with the executive council decision EX.CL/Dec. I 090(XXXVI), since the council’s decision, had specifically endorsed the three names of candidates as submitted by the ministerial committee’s report after thoroughly examining the qualifications and professional experience of each of the three above mentioned candidates.”
The Egyptian mission urged the legal counsel office to provide its opinion on “the conformity of Nigeria’s new nomination with executive council decision no. EX1072 of July 2019, which requested member states to nominate candidates to the position of director-general of the World Trade Organisation by November 30, 2019.
“The conformity of Nigeria’s new nomination as presented in its note verbal with the rules of procedure of the ministerial committee, specifically rule 11, para (1), (2), (3), (4);
“If the new nomination – in the event it is submitted officially to the WTO in Geneva- could constitute a failure to comply with the decision of the executive council and be subject to sanction for non-compliance as mentioned in Rule I 6 of the rules of procedure of the ministerial committee,” the letter read.
Egypt in its letter added that it has commenced consultations with the Republic of Benin “with the aim of reaching a consensus on one African candidate”.
Okonjo-Iweala, 65, served twice as Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, from 2003 to 2006 under President Olusegun Obasanjo and from 2011 to 2015 under President Goodluck Jonathan.
She also served as a former managing director (operations) at the World Bank.
She currently chairs the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, a public-private global health partnership with the goal of increasing access to immunisation in poor countries.
She also sits on the board of microblogging site, Twitter