By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
The All Progressive Congress (APC) Governors Forum (PGF) has thrown its weight behind the candidature of former Nigerian Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, for the Director General of World Trade Organization (WTO), saying she has the experience to lead and reform the body.
In a statement signed by the chairman of the PGF, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, who is also the Governor of Kebbi State, the PGF said it is an understatement to say that the world trade system has not worked well and has mixed results.
The APC governors said the dream of a cooperative system that benefits all countries is stunted by practices that limit trade, capital and Labour mobility, adding that though countries, developed and developing, agree on the need for such a system, but in reality progress has been rather slow, saying it should not be so.
According to the statement, “Attempts to create a trading arrangement that shall benefit all has been fraught with difficulties and the stronger nations tend to be most favored by current or even previous arrangement. The quest for advantageous trade led tragically to both slavery and colonialism, two horrible trade systems.
“Numerous wars, including World Wars I & II were caused to a large extent by trade considerations. While the current World Trade Organisation arrangement is a significant improvement, it is yet to achieve equitable progress, particularly for the weaker members.”
It said African countries have been committed to the WTO and have been patiently hopeful, recalling that the WTO Agreement was signed in 1995 at Marrakech in Morocco with many African countries being early signatories, yet progress has been painstakingly slow with agreement of more equitable trade and agriculture on the table since 2001 it started in Doha, Qatar.
To this end, the PGF said in nominating Okonjo-Iweala, President Buhari is not just presenting a Nigerian candidate, but is presenting to the world one of its best, albeit from Nigeria, and one who is eminently qualified to lead the task of fixing the world trading system.
Describing the qualities and qualifications of Okonjo-Iweala, Bagudu said in the statement that the former Minister is an economist, international development expert and a global public servant, arguing that she is one candidate that come with all the experiences and expertise required to reposition the WTO.
While commending President Buhari for giving the world the opportunity towards correcting the distortions in the world trading system, PGF said “last year, President Buhari signed the African Free Trade Agreement which holds a lot of promise for Nigeria.
“Getting it right at the World Trade Organization shall hasten the goals of Africa in the global arena. With Dr. Okonjo-Iweala who is cut out for the job given her background, her achievements, her world view, who promotes the belief that a trading system can work for the benefit of all, and truly that’s what the world needs, all nations and peoples committed to the promotion of equitable trading system should support her emergence as the Director-General of WTO.”
In addition, the PGF said the former World Bank President, as someone who practiced development economics at the World Bank, rising to the top and having served twice as Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, where she struggled with budget sizes below what the country’s potential demands and served two Presidents, who but apart from being of same party, are opposites, she however was quite remarkable in serving both and providing the needed leadership for Nigeria’s economic policy.
“She sits on the board of the Gloval Alliance of Vaccines in Africa, which of recent was exposed to the fragility of the global trading system in securing and supporting countries which supplies support to COVID-19 response. Her experience in these fields equips her with the creative and modern perspectives that are required in navigating the uncertainties that will come in the post Covid-19 world”, the statement said.
PGF said at the WTO, which she would lead, Okonjo-Iweala will be able to bring the world of knowledge, creativity and value addition to the least developed world, while at the same time mobilizing millions in poverty into the world trade system with over 100 million of them from Africa.
It pointed out that she has the credentials to assure the more prosperous nations that they could be better off an institution that she leads, while at the same time give confidence to the developing countries that their moment has arrived, saying that is what is needed in the world, which is a win win situation.
“I don’t know what the interview process entail but certainly the abilities of an Amazon who can bring over 400 million Africans, seeking to escape poverty and eager to equitably participate in the world trade system may not be matched by others”, PGF said.