Ngozi comes in swinging

Arthur Greene

Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has made history as the first African as well as the first woman to be named head of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

This is one of the most important posts in the global economy.

On Monday, the WTO’s 164 members voted unanimously to appoint the 66-year-old development economist to serve a four-year term as director general.

Okonjo-Iweala said she was “honoured” to have been selected as the head of the body, which governs rules on trading between nations.

Nigeria’s former finance minister, whose moves can be seen in the above clip, is set to shake things up in her new role.

Speaking after her appointment, Okonjo-Iweala said her top priority was to ensure the WTO does more to address the coronavirus pandemic.

Describing herself as a fighter, she has promised to take on the challenges that the world is now facing because of Covid.

“A strong WTO is vital if we are to recover fully and rapidly from the devastation wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic. I look forward to working with members to shape and implement the policy responses we need to get the global economy going again,” she said.

She was one of eight candidates who put themselves forward to replace the outgoing chief.

Trump threatened the WTO that he would veto her appointment at the time and put his support behind another candidate, South Korea trade minister Yoo Myung-hee. It is unclear whether this ultimately helped Okonjo-Iweala’s bid to secure the role. 

Either way, Trump’s fortunately no longer in a position to veto anybody’s job – except perhaps for the staff on his golf courses.

Picture source: @IgboHistoFacts

Video source: @QulshTM