Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), engaged in a meeting with President Bola Tinubu in an endeavor to tackle the current challenges faced by Nigerians.
Dr. Okonjo-Iweala acknowledged the hardships experienced by Nigerians and underscored the government’s awareness of these difficulties.
Speaking to the press after the meeting held at the State House in Abuja, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, accompanied by Dr. Mohammed Pate, former Minister of State for Health and minister-designate, clarified that the meeting took place in her personal capacity and was not an official WTO mission.
The discussions centered around strategies to alleviate the suffering of the Nigerian population. The conversations revolved around initiatives to promote job creation, empower women, and enhance digital trade within Nigeria’s economy.
Dr. Okonjo-Iweala explained, “While this was not an official WTO mission, we engaged with Mr. President to discuss the types of programs that could be implemented to address the need for community and grassroots initiatives that can generate jobs for young people. We also explored avenues to support women and children who are disproportionately affected by the country’s challenges.”
The conversations extended to long-term investments in various sectors, including pharmaceuticals. Dr. Okonjo-Iweala emphasized the potential support the World Trade Organisation could provide.
She noted, “We are already working with Nigerian women who own small and medium-sized enterprises to enhance the quality of their products, whether in agriculture or textiles, and assisting them in participating more effectively in international trade. We are also focusing on digital trade, which is the future. Our aim is to train and empower Nigerian women and SMEs nationwide to generate more employment opportunities.”
Dr. Pate, a former CEO of the global vaccine alliance GAVI, corroborated Dr. Okonjo-Iweala’s remarks and emphasized President Tinubu’s dedication to alleviating the suffering of Nigerians. He assured that the challenges are temporary and highlighted the president’s commitment to intervention measures.
Dr. Pate remarked, “President Tinubu is acutely aware of the difficulties faced by the people and is fully committed to addressing them. Our discussions centered on targeting the most vulnerable, such as women, children, and youth, as well as attracting investments to stimulate economic growth and provide relief to the people. These difficulties are transient, and with the president’s vision, we can confidently navigate through these challenging times to forge a stronger, more united Nigeria.”
Dr. Pate also highlighted plans to promote grassroots programs that support women and youth, alongside an emphasis on healthcare, particularly health insurance, primary healthcare, and hospital care.
He elaborated, “Health was a key area of discussion with the president. It’s heartening to see that health is a unifying factor that encompasses various aspects, from policy and regulation to pharmaceutical quality, financial protection through health insurance, primary healthcare services for common ailments, and comprehensive hospital care. By addressing these aspects, we can ensure comprehensive healthcare access at all levels.”