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WTO: Buhari Engages European Council President On Okonjo-Iweala’s Bid

President Muhammadu Buhari Friday held a video conference with President of the European Council, Mr. Charles Michel.

According to a statement by Special Adviser to the President (Media & Publicity), Femi Adesina, Michel reiterated Europe’s support for Nigeria’s Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in her bid to become the next Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

“The President is leading Nigeria’s charge for Okonjo-Iweala, the country’s former Minister of Finance, to emerge as the first Black and female WTO DG,” Adesina said.

“President Buhari thanked the European Council for its support for Nigeria’s candidate.”

Also discussed during the conference were issues bordering on debt relief for Africa, EU-African relations and recharge of the Lake Chad, which has currently shrunk to less than one-third of its usual size, and throwing about 130 million people who depend on the Lake into dire straits.

“Recharge of the Lake Chad is an issue the Nigerian President had vigorously canvassed at diverse global fora in recent time,” the president’s spokesman said.

“President Buhari expressed appreciation to Mr Michel for expected positive developments on the issues.”

The European Parliament and European Union had earlier endorsed the Nigerian’s bid.

On Wednesday, a panel of three senior WTO ambassadors recommended to delegates that the Nigerian candidate had a wide margin of support and was best poised to command a consensus from the organisation’s 164 members.

But the US opposed Okonjo-Iweala’s candidacy, rather backing her only contender and South Korea’s Trade Minister, Yoo Myung-hee.

The opposition pushed a decision on the next DG of the trade body to November 9, less than a week after the US presidential election.

The Nigerian nominee for the top job said she would stay positive.

The Federal Government, on Thursday, said it would continue to engage relevant stakeholders to ensure that Okonjo-Iweala emerges the next WTO DG.

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