Nigerian president pledges to seek global support for WTO candidate

Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria's president, speaks during the United Nations General Assembly seen on a laptop computer in Hastings on the Hudson, New York, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 22. 2020. The United Nations General Assembly met in a virtual environment for the first time in its 75-year history due to the pandemic. Photographer: Tiffany Hagler-Geard/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s president, speaks during the United Nations General Assembly seen on a laptop computer in Hastings on the Hudson, New York, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 22. 2020. The United Nations General Assembly met in a virtual environment for the first time in its 75-year history due to the pandemic. Photographer: Tiffany Hagler-Geard/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday vowed to seek global support in ensuring that the country’s former Minister of Finance Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala becomes the new director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO) next month.

Okonjo-Iweala, also former managing director of the World Bank, is one of the two candidates contesting for the top position of the multilateral institution.

Buhari, who received Okonjo-Iweala at the Presidential Villa here, assured her that the country will explore every opportunity and deploy its entire energy to ensure that she wins the WTO election.

“I assure you that we will do all that we can to ensure that you emerge as the director-general of WTO, not only because you are a Nigerian, but because you are a hardworking Nigerian. You deserve this,” the president said.

He told the development economist that he will make more phone calls, and send letters to some world leaders for more support.

“I did the same for Akinwunmi Adesina for President of the African Development Bank. Both of you served the country under the Peoples Democratic Party. You are both highly qualified. We will continue to support you,” Buhari said.

Responding to the Nigerian president’s gesture, Okonjo-Iweala asked Buhari to “make one final push within the week” to gain herself a better chance in the forthcoming WTO election.

“Mr. President, put a smile on my face,” she said. “I am very proud of the country.