04Today, March 1, 2021, in faraway Geneva, Switzerland, Nigerians complete the takeover of the leaderships of trading bureaucracies as they affect Africa and the world as a whole.
Nigeria-born Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is a historic engagement that assumes the position of the Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), as the first woman, first African, to occupy the coveted global seat.
She will be joining and leading her fellow Nigerian brothers, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Professor Benedict Okey Oramah, President and Board Chairman of African Import-Export Bank (Afreximbank), who have been in charge of trade and commerce of the African continent for over Five years now, in the administration and promotion of trade across the globe.
Essentially, Dr. Okonjo Iweala as the DG of WTO would be administering world trade organisations’ trade agreements, providing for trade negotiations, handling trade disputes, monitoring national trade policies, providing technical assistance and training for developing countries, and ensuring cooperation with other international organizations.
Dr. Adesina blazed the trail on May 28, 2015 when he emerged as the first Nigerian to lead the AfDB charged with the development of trade and commerce in Africa. Erudite, versatile and ever-innovative, Adesina served meritoriously in that position for five years and the tyranny and bullying of the immediate past President of the United States of America, Mr. Donald Trump was not potent enough to deny him a second term in office. He did well as the helmsman of AfDB and the board of the bank, and indeed the entire world appreciated and rewarded him with a second term in office.
Closely following Adesina’s steps, Professor Oramah was first appointed as the President of Afreximbank on September 21, 2015, and with stellar performance matched with profound and stainless conduct, the University of Ibadan Agricultural Economics graduate was seamlessly appointed to serve for another term of five years unanimously by the Board of the bank last year.
In his first term as the President of Afreximbank, Prof. Oramah transformed the bank beyond the expectations of the board. At all times, in good, bad, progress and adversities, he has effectively and positively made the most of the Afreximbank, navigating and advancing African trade through thick and thin.
With profound policies and programmes, Oramah proactively positioned the bank to respond to the challenges of the Africa Free Trade Agreement and resourcefully evolved PATIMFA to mitigate the negative effects of COVID-19 on African trade and commerce. Today, Afreximbank is a major catalyst for trade and commerce in Africa, ditto for the AfDB under the leadership of Adesina.
Overall, both Adesina and Oramah have proved their mettle, adding real values to the AfDB and Afreximbank respectively with the unprecedented transformation of trade, commerce and industry in the last five years. They have done Nigeria, their home country, really proud.
Ascending the WTO highest position with what can correctly be described as the best of credentials, preparedness, support and confidence; Dr. Okonjo-Iweala emerged as the 7th President of the 164 nation organization when the international community was looking for a leader who will not only be able to exercise intellectual leadership and diplomatic skills in advancing the multilateral agenda but who is also a good communicator with strong managerial skills.
More than ready to lead the world, Okonjo Iweala’s immediate response to her selection confirmed that she was exactly the most suitable person, the person God has deliberately prepared for the WTO leadership for this very moment. Profusing quality leadership, humility, focus and seriousness, she said: “I am honored to have been selected by WTO members as WTO Director-General. A strong WTO is vital if we are to recover fully and rapidly from the devastation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic. I look forward to working with members to shape and implement the policy responses we need to get the global economy going again. Our organization faces a great many challenges but working together we can collectively make the WTO stronger, more agile and better adapted to the realities of today.”
As the Amazon at WTO works towards giving the world a stronger, more active and better trading structure and the duo of Adesina and Oramah see to the realization of the much-desired African Integrated market for the greatest benefits of Africans and the world, Nigeria will continue to earn greater prestige even more than the bumper one at hand today. It is a moment to be proud of being a Nigerian. It is also a time for all of us to be more dedicated, committed to the cause of our motherland and contribute our best in whatever we are doing and wherever we find ourselves.
It is of importance to note that President Muhammadu Buhari personally nominated Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for the WTO job and both Dr. Akinwumi Adesina and Professor Benedict Okey Oramah also got tremendous support from the president’s decisive actions at various times. These could not be coincidences. The president is methodically pursuing a subtle strategy and state policy aimed at getting Nigerians to be major players in global affairs and it is yielding excellent fruits.
Olaosebikan is the CEO of Midas Communications, a global PR firm.