In the most unlikely of circumstances, the appointment of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the next head of the World Trade Organization (WTO) is being affected by US presidential election and politics. If (when) confirmed, she will be the first African and first female chief of WTO.
Who’s Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, you may ask? Well, unless you’ve been following the World Bank, West African or Nigerian politics, you may not know who she is…although all of us here at ConstructionJane are disappointed that you don’t know that already. Nonetheless, I’ll tell you about her. She is one of my favorite African icons and she calls herself an “African optimist”, which I love!
Truth be told, I first started writing about blog about Dr. Okonjo-Iweala back in May 28 2020, when she was the commencement at the Harvard Kennedy School’s virtual graduation ceremony held on May 28, 2020. But, I procrastinated unfortunately. But she’s recently been in the limelight again, I have gotten a second chance. And I’m seizing the opportunity this time!
- Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala earned her Bachelors in Economics, magna cum laude, from Harvard University in 1977 and earned her Ph.D. in Regional Economics and Development from MIT.
- She’s had a 25-year career at the World Bank, including as Managing Director of the World Bank.
- She was Nigeria’s Finance Minister during 2 different presidents, where she accomplished major restructuring, eliminated ghost government employees, negotiated down the Paris Club debt (reduced the nation’s debt by $30 billion) .
- She’s the author of at least 5 books. Reforming the Unreformable: Lessons from Nigeria is a formidable addition on my bookshelf and a riveting read!
- She’s the Board Chair of Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, making sure all children in the world, especially in developing countries are vaccinated.
- You can listen to her TED Talks (yes, multiple!) here or here.
- Most ironically, she’s a US citizen being filibustered by her own government. The travesty!
Yes, you read that right! Trump’s goonish and clownish administration is blocking her formal recognition as the head of the World Trae Organization even though 163 of the 164 members have already approved her…Yes, that’s right, the United States is the only hold-out. But come January 2021, that might not be the case, due to the US presidential election on November 3rd.
In short, this woman has dedicated her life, at great risk, to better the lives of all Nigerians, all Africans, and all poor children and women in developing countries around the world. She is dignified, effective, powerful, and yet so accessible and personable, and full of great pride in her heritage. The WTO would be lucky to have her.
I’ll be waiting with bated breath on Nov. 3, just 2 days from now, and seeing what impact that will have on the November 9th, when the WTO will be holing a general council and formally recommending Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. There’s also a chance that this may come to a vote, though, so far in the WTO history, they have this “kumbaya” consensus tradition where all members have had to agree on its leader.
This year may have to be different. Stay tuned!
Did you learn anything new about Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala? Let me know in the comments 🙂 Waiting to hear from you!