The Heads of State and Governments of the 15 Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have endorsed the candidature of Nigeria’s two-term former minister and erstwhile Managing Director (Operations) of the World Bank, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, for the position of the Director General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
This was contained in a statement signed by the President of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, on behalf of the Heads of State and Government.
Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s former Coordinating Minister of the Economy, had been nominated for the top job by the President Muhammadu Buhari .
The leaders of the regional bloc “acknowledged the strong academic and professional background of Dr Okonjo-Iweala and her very large experience in national affairs as Nigeria’s Finance Minister (2003-2006 and 2011-2015) and Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister briefly in 2006”.
They said their endorsement of Okonjo-Iweala’s candidature is conditioned on her academic and over 30 years of experience as a Development Economist.
The leaders also called on other African and non-African States to support the former minister.
Nominations for the job are expected to close on July 8 following which candidates will be invited to meet with WTO Council members at a special General Council meeting.
The successful candidate will succeed the current Director-General, Mr Roberto Azevêdo, who has announced that he will step down on August 31.
Tola Johnson, Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Micro Small and Medium and Medium Enterprises(MSMEs), says 100,000 small businesses will get N50,000 each.
NAN reports that the gesture is part of COVID-19 economic stimulus.
The presidential aide made the announcement at the inauguration of the Implementation of Survival Fund and Guaranteed Off-Take Stimulus Schemes for MSMEs on Thursday in Abuja.
Johnson, the Project Coordinator, said that the schemes were part of the Economic Sustainability Plan drafted by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo-led committee and approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“The Payroll Support targets 100,000 businesses. However, the number of individuals who will benefit from this is 500,000. What the government has done is to say that there a lot of MSMEs that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.
“Afterward, there is a CAC (Corporate Affairs Commission) free registration; it is free for the MSMEs but the government is paying the CAC for this. What the government has done is to say to the CAC, you do this regularly to the MSMEs at about N12,000 or thereabout; give it to us at half price, we will give it to the MSMEs free.’’
Johnson added that under the National MSMEs Clinic, Osinbajo and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment went to no fewer than 26 states.
He said it was discovered that very creative businesses were not registered.
“They will tell you they don’t have N10,000 to N12,000 to register their businesses. The government had promised that at some point, we will do and I think the opportunity has come now; the opportunity cannot be better than now.’’
The official also announced that under the Survival Fund, the last strap would be the Transport and Artisans Support.
At least 333,000 beneficiaries will get a one-off N30,000 grant, Johnson said.
He added that the government will work with associations, individuals and the Ministry of Transportation to implement the scheme.