Nigeria's former Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, is now the Director General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), various reports have stated.

She polled 104 votes from 164 member countries to defeat South Korea’s Trade Minister, Yoo Myung-hee, at the final stage of the race.

With this victory, Okonjo-Iweala has become the first female DG of the WTO in the institution's 25-year-history.

She is also the first African to occupy the office.

The WTO General Council Chair, David Walker, has just reported on the results of the consultations to appoint the next #WTODG as members prepare way forward in selection process.

After the meeting, WTO spokesperson Keith Rockwell summed up the announcement by GC Chair Walker: “The candidate that had the best chance of attaining a consensus of the membership is Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria. Consultations on the way forward will start immediately", he said.

NOI will replace the Brazilian Roberto Azevêdo, who informed members on May 14 that he would be stepping down from his post, one year before the expiry of his mandate. He subsequently left office on August 31.

Pulse has learnt that the WTO will formally announce Okonjo-Iweala as winner in the next couple of hours.

The process

The WTO usually arrives at its DG by consensus.

The third and final phase of the consultation process was scheduled to begin in late October and run until November 6.

It is unclear, at the time of reporting, why a winner is emerging now.

In early October, the WTO selected two final candidates -- Okonjo-Iweala and South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee from a pool of eight -- to advance to the final round in the race to lead the Geneva-based trade body.

President Muhammadu Buhari nominated Okonjo-Iweala, 66, for the position on June 5, 2020.

The former Nigeria minister received the backing of regional body ECOWAS, the African Union, Caribbean and Pacific States and the European Union, on her way to emerging winner.

Reports say the United States didn't endorse NOI however.

The new boss of the WTO will be tasked with overseeing much needed reforms, steer the trading world through a post-COVID recession, clinch multilateral deals, manage rising protectionism and navigate the trade war between China and the United States.