An Intimate Analysis of Ngozi Iweala And Her Chances With WTO

By Dr. Johnson Greg

In a painstaking but compellingly articulate submission to the members of the Due Process Advocates, the organization’s avatar, Rambo DPA, presented the case of Dr. Ngozi Iweala at the World Trade Organization. Rambo wrote as follows:


1. Ngozi Iweala is super qualified for the WTO top position. But what really is the qualification needed for this job? Does it include the ability of the candidate to win the support of the United States? If yes, then Ngozi is lacking that key element of qualification (US Government support). I can end this analysis here. But let’s go further.

2. Why should the US government support Ngozi Iweala? What is their interest in Ngozi? Though Ngozi is a US citizen, she was not nominated or put forward by the US Government. The country that put Ngozi forward is her real country, Nigeria, by President Bihari. The only single country that put her forward is Nigeria. (Yes, other countries supported her, but they did not nominate her. Only her countries could nominate her, and Nigeria did).

3. It is actually rare for what is in the interest of Nigeria to also be in the interest of the United States. Nigerian interest in Ngozi is simply that she is a Nigerian citizen, not that her presence n WTO would change Nigerian trade position in the world. On the other hand, American interest in the South Korean Minister is in relation with American interest in Asia. That’s heavy.


ngozi okonjo
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

4. Ngozi knew that the US was not supporting her. Hence she sought the backing of Nigeria instead of the backing of the US.

5. Even though Ngozi has lived in the US for 35 years and could have become American citizen 30 years ago, she chose not to be an American citizen until last year when it became clear to many American resident aliens that Trump’s administration might change American immigration law against people like Ngozi. So, though Ngozi is formally an American citizen, Trump’s administration doesn’t see it that way. Besides, Nigeria already claimed her.

6. America sees the appointment of the WTO DG as key instrument of pursuing their foreign relations and trade policies. So, they have compared Ngozi and the South Korean Minister in terms of which of them would serve the interest of the US better, and they chose the South Korean over Ngozi. And that’s quite understandable.

7. Ngozi knows the rules. She knew she did not have the backing of the US. If she did, she would not seek the public backing by Nigeria. When she went forward without the US backing, she understood that she would be eventually running against a US-backed candidate. She also understood that that US has a veto power over the selection process. But because she knew that her formal credentials would tower over her opponent’s, she can be said to have wanted to put the US Government on the spot and force them to back her against their wish or alternatively expose the shortcomings of the selection process. She has succeeded in achieving the latter. People are now watching to see whether the WTO wound be cajoled by America to reject Ngozi who is most qualified and accept someone less qualified but preferred by America. You have to understand how serious this is and it must be quite embarrassing to the US Government. And for your information, Biden’s administration will likely not back Ngozi either. So it is not Republican/Democratic issue.

8. Ngozi has done a similar thing in the past. She knew that the position of President of the World Bank has been by convention reserved for an American (sponsored by American Government), the position of the Managing Director for the IMF is reserved for an European and the position of the Secretary General of the United Nations is reserved for somebody from the developing countries. Based on that, America will not put forward a candidate for either the Secretary General of UN or MD of the IMF. So, when Ngozi decided to challenge that convention by running for the President of the World Bank, every well-informed person, including Ngozi herself, knew she would not get it. But Ngozi may just have wanted to show that she was qualified or even more qualified than whoever got it. If that was her aim, she succeeded. Such kind of demonstration is very important for her because it places her in hot demand by major corporations of the world for her to sit on their board. It is a brilliant way for Ngozi to market herself.


Ngozi Okonjo Iweala

9. It should not be a surprise to anybody that China would support Ngozi. China supported her because they knew America did not support her. The reason China supported her was the reason America rejected her. South Korea is a staunch ally of the US, especially in dealing against North Korea. North Korea is a staunch ally of China in resisting American influence in their region. So, it is guaranteed that the US would oppose anyone supported by China. European Union is more neutral. The EU and Japanese support for Ngozi is more on the merits.

10. The situation with Ngozi and WTO is complex international politics in play. It is not as simple as Nigerians see it. Nigeria has no leverage over the process. The African Union does not either. One of the flowing is expected to happen.

(a) Ngozi and her supporters will lobby US officials and convince them to withdraw their objections to her appointment.

(b) Other countries and regions such as European Union members will persuade America on Ngozi’s behalf. This is not likely to yield support because of the tense relationship between European Union and Trump’s administration.

(c) The Korean Trade Minister withdraws from contest out of embarrassment for knowing she is not the preferred candidate.

If none of these happens, Ngozi will not become the DG of WTO.

If you like the insight from Rambo, invite your friends to join DPA Forum by Emeka Ugwuonye

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