Former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has finally taken American citizenship after more than 40 years since the studied in the United States. With the World Trade Organisation (WTO) elections drawing ever closer, it is believed that dual citizenship would further increase her chances of being elected as the director-general of WTO.
Okonjo-Iweala’s spokeswoman told Bloomberg News that the former Minister obtained American citizenship in 2019 after spending most of her career at the World Bank and living in the Washington suburbs.
She said, “It’s not uncommon for international civil servants who spend long stretches working abroad to take second citizenship, especially when their families have been living overseas with them. She’s humbled by the support of the government of Nigeria and its people.”
Experts believe that the possession of dual citizenship may boost the candidates’ chances of getting the much-coveted job. Stuart Harbinson, a former senior WTO official and a senior consultant on international trade for Hume Brophy communications agency said, “Unfortunately in this rather mercantilist world we live in, some members might take nationality into account. It is much more important to get the right person.”
Many of the candidates battling for the WTO top job already possess dual citizenship and some even went as far as to publicly display it on their profile. Jesús Seade Kuri is Mexican and Lebanese. Amina Mohamed, a Kenyan minister, is also Somali and Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh is both Swiss and Egyptian.
Despite working in the United States for more than 25 years, Dr Okonjo-Iweala didn’t take up US citizenship. However, this cost her dearly when she ran for the president of the World Bank in 2012. Without the United States backing her, she lost to Korean-American Jim Yong Kim.
With the US-China trade war one of the major factors affecting the WTO, it is widely believed that the United States will only back someone that is friendly to its cause. Dr Okonjo-Iweala has garnered lots of support from highly important personalities and organizations. If she can add the United States to the growing list of supporters, she would definitely take some stopping in the race for the top job.