- The federal government is standing by Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala despite opposition from the African Union
- Okonjo-Iweala, 66, is contesting for the office of the director-general of the World Trade Organisation
- The Nigerian government insisted that Okonjo-Iweala’s nomination did not violate any laws as it was not a fresh nomination
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The Nigerian government has rejected the conclusions reached by the African Union (AU)’s office of legal counsel on the nomination of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to contest for the office of the director-general of the World Trade Organisation.
The AU's legal arm had stated that the Nigerian government's decision to back Okonjo-Iweala for the role violates its rules.
In a note verbale on Thursday, June 18, the Nigerian embassy and permanent mission to the AU said claims that Okonjo-Iweala’s nomination contravenes laid-down rules failed all parameters of objectivity and unbiased submission.
According to The Cable, the Nigerian government insisted that Okonjo-Iweala’s nomination did not violate any laws as it was a replacement of a previously presented candidate (Yonov Agah) and not a fresh nomination.
“The permanent mission of the Federal Republic of Nigeria will not be a party to any propaganda and/or actions that supplant the vision and objectives of the African Union, by supporting a willful, obviously partisan and outlandish interpretation of rules and decisions,” part of the letter read.
It said the rules referred to by the legal counsel were related to the submission of a new candidature and “not, by any shred of imagination, a substitution/replacement of an earlier submission duly made in line with all rules.”
It also said none of the decisions so far prevents any member state from substituting its candidate especially when a consensus candidate has not been chosen.
Okonjo-Iweala, a princess from Ogwashi Ukwu in Delta state, is one of Nigeria's finest exports to the world.
As the former minister of finance for Nigeria, she helped the country's economy, the largest in Africa, grow an average of 6% (per annum) over three years.
Speaking to the BBC recently on her interest in the job, Okonjo-Iweala said: “I want the job because I think I have the skills for it. I think the organisation needs some reforms to make it relevant for the times we are and to make it fit for purpose.
“I have a reputation as a strong reformer. I have written a book titled; Reforming the Unreformable, where with a team, we undertook very important reforms in Nigeria.
“I am also a strong person with strong negotiation skills. I have had a career for over 30years. I have constantly being involved in negotiating important agreements between two countries.”
Recall that the Egyptian government had earlier claimed that the nomination of Okonjo-Iweala by “is not in conformity with the executive council decision.”
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