Dr Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iwuala has been in the news but made history on March 1, 2021. Her resume topped the world charts and in all, made Africa proud. As a local in Umuahia, Abia State, Nigeria put it, “my senior brother’s wife has read all the books in economics and she is now the Director General of the World Trade Organization.”
For emphasis, Ngozi Okonjo-Iwuala is A DEVELOPMENT ECONOMIST whose educational quest trailed through Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT and the almighty Harvard which she topped with a PhD.
Her current assignment at The WTO has been celebrated by Nigeria, Africa and women all over the world for many reasons. First is that she is the first woman to be on the seat, shattering the glass ceiling, first African, first black woman and all, disregarding all stereotypes, and negative profiles.
The hurdles and frustrations she overcame to be on this coveted seat, emanating from and precipitated by the last American president, Donald Trump is now committed to the chronicles and may be exhumed by researchers and commentators when necessary.
Trump was able to unleash such drastic tantrums and lord it over the will of most countries because The U S government has a powerful veto and Trump being a power pervert, pushed to the limits but as it is said, there is always a point that certain individuals cannot go beyond. God is God and man is man. The greatest question that Trump will be asking himself is; I know the Americans failed me with their votes, but who the hell is this Ngozi Okonjo-Iwuala? If properly analyzed, Ngozi may be the only woman to teach Trump a big lesson because Trump has been known to get all he wants but historically couldn’t stop this woman from heading the 159-member country Organization.
Indeed, Mrs Okonjo-Iwuala, didn’t come empty handed as her CV is intimidating. She is on the chair of Gavi, an international Organization saddled with issues of global vaccinations and immunization, and she is equally a senior adviser at Lazard-a financial advisory and asset management group. In the same manner, a member of the age long and powerful Rockefeller Foundation and the Center for Global Development. Added to these, she is on the Chair of African Risk Capacity, an African Union agency on weather and disaster management.
Not these alone, recognitions and awards roll in like water in the Mississippi River. Fortune Magazine nominated her as one of the 50 greatest world leaders in 2015 and one of 100 most powerful women in the world for 5 times running. The Time Magazine, Newsweek and Forbes, great authorities, have theirs in respect of this epochal lady from Nigeria, who was able to save her country from being dragged to arbitration courts by the Paris Club, gaining a whopping sum of 18 billion dollars in debt relief among rebasing the Nigerian economy to be the greatest in Africa, nudging South Africa off that position she occupied for so many years.
Not surprisingly, NGOZI has taken her well-deserved place at the WTO, but there are inherent lessons, especially for Nigerian men and women.
In her success, she has not forgotten that she is first and foremost a wife and mother. She is not ashamed of her African descent and dress code. Definitely, she has become a couture brand with her Ankara and other indigenous cotton dresses and head gears that she spawns in their numbers. Today, many African women are dressing like her so that’s a high degree of culture export.
On a more serious note, she still sees her husband, Professor Ikemba Iwuala as the same person she vowed to love and cherish so many years ago. From past experiences, so many women who found fame in Abuja have distanced themselves from their husbands.
I equally hail Professor Ikemba Iwuala for being liberal and confident to allow Ngozi as he fondly calls her to trip the world in high-wired professional assignments, not frustrating and threatening her as it is not easy to turn under the covers at midnight and not find your wife at her wing.
I urge Abia women, NAWOJ, FIDA and other sororities to seek grants from Abia and other state governments, especially in the South East, the Central Bank of Nigeria, other world donors, even in the diaspora to help in carrying out studies on Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iwuala, vis a vis professional attitude, education, self-confidence and life style to benefit the coming generations especially younger women.
In the same vein, let our governments at all levels consider qualification, profession and experience in employment as against ethnicity, favoritism and nepotism.
Along the same positive line, let us thank Yoo Myunghee, South Korean trade minister who withdrew from the race when she couldn’t stand the rays of popularity and towering acceptance of her opponent by many member countries rather than waiting on the American veto. Equally, kudos to President Joe Biden who struck a diplomatic blow by deviating from Trump’s recalcitrance.