We’ll push until you win, Buhari assures Okonjo-Iweala on WTO job

• Put a smile on my face, ex-minister tells President

President Muhammadu Buhari Monday received Nigeria’s former Minister of Finance and Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, assuring her that the country will explore every opportunity and deploy its entire energy to ensure that she becomes the Director-General of World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Dr Okonjo-Iweala is one of two candidates contesting for the top position of the multilateral institution.

She was led to the president’s office at the presidential villa, Abuja by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo, his Minister of State, Maryam Katagum, and the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Zubair Dada.

President Buhari had previously expressed his support and that of his administration to her effort to clinch the plump post.

President Buhari, who received the former Managing Director (Operations) of the World Bank, said she deserved more support to get the top job because of her profile and diligence in serving the country, and the world.

“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,’’ a statement issued by Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity) quoted him as saying.

The President assured Dr Okonjo-Iweala that he will make more phone calls, and send letters to some world leaders for more support.

He added: “I did the same for Dr Akinwunmi Adesina for 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,’’ the President told Dr Okonjo-Iweala.

In her remarks, Dr Okonjo-Iweala, a renowned development economist, thanked the President and his ministers, particularly the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, and Ministers of Industry, Trade and Investment for supporting her staunchly.

She stated: “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 around the clock to ensure that I succeed.”

The former Minister of Finance also appreciated ECOWAS leaders for their endorsement, mentioning, in particular, the outstanding contributions of President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger Republic and immediate past Chairman of ECOWAS as well as President Alhassan Ouattara 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,’’ she said, “I am very proud of the country.’’

 

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