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M-I-NA AMBASSADOR

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) members on Monday elected Nigerian economist, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to be the next director-general of the organization, she becomes the first woman and the first African to lead the WTO.

The decision was taken at a special meeting of the organisation’s General Council.

“Dr Okonjo-Iweala will become the first woman and the first African to head the WTO,” the WTO said in a statement.

Okonjo-Iweala will assume duties on March 1, while her term will expire on Aug. 31, 2025, but it could be renewed, the organisation noted.

Fellow female leaders, such as European Commission’s President Ursula von der Leyen and President of the European Central Bank Christine Lagarde, have already congratulated Okonjo-Iweala on the appointment.

“This is an historic moment for the entire world. I’m so glad to see a woman from Africa at the head. Europe is fully behind you.

“We support the reform of the WTO and will help you protect the rules-based multilateral trading system,”Von der Leyen said on Twitter.

Lagarde noted that she has “known Ngozi for many years. Her strong will and determination will drive her to tirelessly promote free trade to the benefit of people worldwide.”

Okonjo-Iweala’s appointment follows months of deadlocked discussions between the WTO members on who should be chosen as the next director-general since former chief Roberto Azevedo stepped down in August, a year earlier than his second four-year term was set to end.

The delays in the appointment of WTO chief reportedly stemmed from the reluctance of former U.S. President Donald Trump to approve the Nigerian economist’s candidacy.

The Trump administration favoured South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee.

However, after Joe Biden assumed presidency, the South Korean minister decided to quit the race paving the way for Okonjo-Iweala’s selection.

The economist and expert in international finance and development is regarded as a skilled negotiator and consensus builder, having gathered experience in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America.

The 66-year-old chairs the GAVI Vaccine Alliance and sits on the board of Twitter.

She was recently appointed African Union Special Envoy for the continent’s access to the COVID-19 tools accelerator.

Okonjo-Iweala spent 25 years as a development economist at the World Bank, during which she quickly rose through the ranks to become managing director of operations.

She spearheaded several World Bank initiatives to assist low-income countries during both food and financial crises, generating more than 40 billion dollars for the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s grant and soft credit arm.

Okonjo-Iweala twice served as Nigerian finance minister (2003-2006 and 2011-2015) and briefly acted as foreign minister in 2006. She was the first Nigerian woman to hold both positions.

She earned an economics degree from Harvard University (1976), graduating magna cum laude, a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and received 15 honorary degrees from universities across the world.

Okonjo-Iweala is the author of numerous books and articles on finance and economics.

Transparency International named her one of eight inspirational female anti-corruption fighters in 2019, while Fortune Magazine called her one of the 50 greatest world leaders in 2015.

In 2014, Time Magazine listed her among the top 100 most influential people in the world.

Okonjo-Iweala is married with four children and has three grandchildren.

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M-I-NA AMBASSADOR

The coast is now clear for Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to become the next Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) following the endorsement of US President Joe Biden.

On Friday she became the only candidate for the position following the withdrawal of South Korean Trade Minister, Yoo Myung-hee, from the race. She is now set to become the body’s first female and first African leader.

According to a statement from the Office of the United States Trade Representative, “The United States takes note of today’s decision by the Republic of Korea’s Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee to withdraw her candidacy for Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO).”

“The Biden-Harris Administration is pleased to express its strong support for the candidacy of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the next Director-General of the WTO.

“Dr. Okonjo-Iweala brings a wealth of knowledge in economics and international diplomacy from her 25 years with the World Bank and two terms as Nigerian Finance Minister.

“She is widely respected for her effective leadership and has proven experience managing a large international organization with a diverse membership.”

A statement from Korea’s trade ministry earlier noted that Yoo decided to quit the race after discussions with the U.S. and other major nations, and took various issues into account including the need to revitalize the multilateral organization.

Okonjo-Iweala on her twitter account @NOiweala commended all the supports, “Grateful for the expression of support from the US today for DG @WTO. Congratulations to Madam Yoo of Rep. Korea for a hard fought campaign. Thank You President Muhammadu Buhari @MBuhari &all Nigerians for your unflinching support. Thank you friends. Love to my family. Glory to God.”


The 66-year-old former World Bank Director had been selected as a consensus candidate by the WTO Selection Committee for the role of director general. However, the move was opposed by the former US President Donald Trump administration which preferred South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee for the job.

This was despite the fact that the WTO selection committee determined she “clearly carried the largest support by members” and “clearly enjoyed broad support from members from all levels of development and from all geographic regions.”

The Director-General of the World Trade Organization is the officer of the World Trade Organization responsible for supervising and directing the organization’s administrative operations. Because World Trade Organizations’ decisions are made by member states, the Director-General has little power over matters of policy – the role is primarily advisory and managerial. The Director-General supervises the WTO secretariat of about 700 staff and is appointed by WTO members for a term of four years.

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M-I-NA AMBASSADOR

Nigerian born Enoh Titilayo Edong was recently appointed as the acting director of the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) by United States President, Joe Biden.

As Acting Director, Ms. Ebong leads an agency that partners with the U.S. private sector to develop sustainable infrastructure and foster economic growth in emerging economies, while supporting U.S. jobs through the export of U.S. goods and services.

A proudly Nigerian, Ebong grew up in Lagos state. Her father, Ime James Ebong, was a Nigerian civil servant who served as permanent secretary.

CAREER

Ms. Ebong had served in a variety of roles, most recently as the Agency’s General Counsel, and Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer.

Ebong had previously served as the head of strategic partnerships at the Milken Center for Advancing the American Dream.

She practiced law at the Boston office of Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris and Popeo, P.C., representing public and private companies in public offerings, financing transactions, mergers and acquisitions, and corporate governance issues before joining the agency in 2004.

EDUCATION

Ebong earned a Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School, a Master of Arts in Communication from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, and a Master of Arts in History, with Honors, from The University of Edinburgh, Scotland. She is a member of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Bar.

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M-I-NA AMBASSADOR, Sport

Nigeria International, Wilfred Ndidi, continues his impressive form for English Premier League top side Leicester City on Tuesday night as he open the scoring in the 2:0 defeat of Chelsea FC to lead his side to the top of the league table.

Leicester are now a point ahead of Manchester United having played a game more while Chelsea are in eighth, five points off the Champions League places.

The dominant performance at The King Power Stadium, with  two first half goals from the Nigerian and team mate James Maddison increased the pressure on coach Frank  Lampard and the struggling London side.

It’s Leicester’s first home win over Chelsea since their title-winning season of 2015/16, with that game costing Jose Mourinho his job that night as coach of the London club.

Wifred Ndidi known for his defensive prowess and long range strikes is arguably the best player in his position in the English premier league.

The Nigerian who made his debut for the club on 7 January 2017, in a 2–1 win against Everton in the third round of the FA Cup, has been consistent over the years, becoming a major stay at the heart of his team’s progress in the league and the Nigeria national team, the Super Eagles.

Ndidi was part of the Nigerian youth setup during his time at Nathaniel Boys of Lagos. He played for the U-20 team between 2013 and 2015, forming the bedrock of the midfield. He was called up to the Senior Nigeria national football team on 8 October 2015, making his debut in the friendly game against DR Congo.

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M-I-NA AMBASSADOR

Osaremen Okolo, daughter of Nigerian immigrants, has been appointed to serve as Covid-19 Policy Advisor to US President-elect, Joe-Biden. The new administration is set to be inaugurated on January 20, 2021.

Joe-Biden appointed Okolo as a member of his Covid- 19 Response Team.

The 26-year-old Nigerian – American was among 100 names announced as additional members of the White House staff by the Biden transition team on Wednesday.

According to Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, the Covid-19 Response Team will “work to quickly implement a comprehensive COVID-19 response strategy to contain the pandemic, restore public trust, and protect all Americans”.

Okolo parents are from Edo state in Southern Nigeria. She was born and raised in Massachusetts.

She currently serves as a Senior Health Policy Advisor at the US House of Representatives.

Okolo graduated with high honours from Harvard College in May 2017. She concentrated primarily in History of Science (Medicine and Society) with an allied, joint concentration in African and African-American Studies. She also obtained a secondary in Global Health and Health Policy.

Osaremen Okolo previously served as Legislative Aide for Health Policy on the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labour, and Pensions (HELP) for Ranking Member Patty Murray of Washington.

She also worked for US Representative Jan Schakowsky of Illinois as a legislative aide for the health policy advisor.

Her work consisted of drafting, negotiating and managing the Congresswoman’s legislation, oversight and policy concerning the comprehensive health care and public health agenda.

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