By Kazeem Ugbodaga
The Secretary General, Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Mohamrad Sanusi Barkindo has congratulated Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on her appointment as the Director-General, World Trade Organisation, WTO.
Barkindo, in a letter to Okonjo-Iweala, on Monday said on behalf of OPEC, he formally extended sincere and heartfelt congratulations to her for her fully deserved appointment as the newly elected Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
“We wish you every success in your new role leading the WTO, a key organization for the effective functioning of the global economy and in helping trade flow as freely as possible. We commend the wisdom of the General Council of the WTO for the historic nature of your appointment, as you are the first woman and first person hailing from the continent of Africa to take up the reigns of the Organization.
“The breadth of support that Your Excellency received during this campaign is testimony to your suitability for the role and lifetime of public service to both our beloved home country, Nigeria, and the international community.
“Your candidacy received support from every geographical region and all categories of members recognized in WTO provisions, namely, Least-Developed Countries, Developing Countries and Developed Countries,” he said.
According to him, Okonjo-Iweala’s appointment came at an extremely challenging time for the world
and the WTO.
He said the global trade has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, saying that support for the multilateral system needed to be bolstered and that the WTO, under her leadership, would embark on a period of substantive and procedural reform.
“However, I know from your lengthy and successful career as a highly-respected economist, an international development expert who worked for 25 years at the World Bank, a diplomat and your two terms as Finance Minister in Nigeria that you are more than up to the task.
“Yours is a career replete with achievement. I recall with pride when in 2005, as Minister of Finance for Nigeria, you successfully led a team that negotiated an $18 billion debt write-off with the Paris Club. This enabled Nigeria to obtain its first-ever sovereign-debt rating.
“At the World Bank, you fronted several initiatives that supported low-income countries, including raising almost $50 billion from donors in an aid campaign for the International Development Association.
“Your leadership capabilities, your deep knowledge and your astute judgement and negotiating skills will be warmly welcomed at the WTO. You have continuously conducted yourself with the highest standards of professionalism, honesty, integrity and courage. I can think of no-one better for the position,” he added.
Barkindo said it is also an extremely proud day for Nigeria, and the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, who recognized her distinctive and impressive credentials for the role and campaigned tirelessly in talking with world leaders to seek support for her candidacy.
“I am sure your appointment is being lauded across the whole of Nigeria. The historic nature of your appointment will inspire women and girls across the globe to become more involved in trade related professions and aspire to leadership positions in international organizations. This is truly heartening and fills us with optimism for the future.
“As an intergovernmental association, OPEC is a proud member of the multilateral system. We are continuously exploring opportunities to strengthen our relations with like-minded international organizations who share our values.
“In this regard, I look forward to having an opportunity to discuss in person the possibilities of enhancing relations between the WTO and OPEC,” he added.