Just seven months into her four-year tenure as the Director General at the World Trade Organisation (WTO), there are reports that Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is growing frustrated with the workings of the organization and has floated the idea of resigning if no headway can be found on critical issues.
According to Bloomberg, five trade officials, who declined to be identified, reported that Okonjo-Iweala has fully grasped the frustrating reality of the WTO’s historical inertia, and has considered quitting.
The officials said that she has repeatedly told ambassadors and staff that she could easily walk away from the job, and reminds them she hasn’t bought any furniture for her temporary home in Geneva.
But in a statement to Bloomberg News on speculation that she wants to run in the 2023 Nigeria’s presidential election, Okonjo-Iweala didn’t comment about her threats to resign but denied any interest in running for the Nigerian presidency, calling such speculation “utterly ridiculous and not true”.
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She added: “I just got here. I am enjoying what I’m doing. It is a very exciting job and I am trying to have some successes here.”
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala began her tenure with a plan to score quick negotiating victories that she hoped would help reboot the dysfunctional Geneva-based trade body.
Observers note that her early departure would add yet another layer of chaos to an organization suffering from an existential crisis that may lead governments to conclude that WTO is not a credible forum for addressing their shared challenges.
Deep divisions and a lack of trust are not new for the WTO, which requires consensus agreement among all 164 members to finalize multilateral accords.