As the second phase of the WTO’s selection process kicks off and candidates begin their campaigns, the Nigerian government has inaugurated a formidable Campaign Strategy Team, led by the Minister of State, Ministry of Industry, Trade & Investment (FMITI), Amb. Mariam Katagum, to drive the campaign for the candidacy of Dr.Okonjo-Iweala.
The campaign team comprises of officials of FMITI, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Finance, representatives of the Office of the Chief of Staff to the President, Office of the SGF, Nigerian Ambassador to ECOWAS and African Union, as well as Geneva-based officials.
Both the honourable Minister and the Minister of State have expressed optimism and confidence that Dr. Okonjo-Iweala will emerge the next WTO boss, based on her capabilities, wealth of experience and commitment to ensuring sustainable development and economic growth.
Meanwhile WTO, has revised the time frame for the election due to the current DG’s decision to step down a year early. The WTO’s 164 member states now have only three months instead of the usual nine to pick between eight candidates and come up with a successor. The time-frame comes in three phases:
Phase 1: Formally commenced with a nomination period (June 8 – July 8) after which candidates were invited to meet with Members at a special General Council meeting (15-17 July) to present their vision for the WTO, and take questions from membership. (Already concluded)
Phase 2: (July 15 – September 7) Candidates present themselves to members, engaging in discussions on the issues facing the Organisation.
Phase 3: (September 7 and to last no more than two months). The General Council through a process of consultations shall narrow the field of candidates and at the end of the final stage, the Chair, with the support of the facilitators, shall submit the name of the candidate most likely to attract consensus and recommend his or her appointment by the General Council.
Members would consider the possibility of voting if it has not been possible to have a consensus candidate by the deadline. However, with the peculiar circumstances of the selection process this time, if a consensus is not reached in time, the General Council shall designate one of the existing Deputy Directors-General to serve as Acting Director-General in September.