Nigeria’s Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is the only Nigerian on 2021 The Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the world.
Okonjo-Iweala, the director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) is on the list alongside Duke and Duchess of Sussex Prince Harry and Meghan.
Other notable honourees of the 2021 Time’s 100 Most Influential People include Naomi Osaka, Britney Spears, Angelique Kidjo, Joe Biden, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Kamala Harris and others.
Prince Harry and Meghan were full of praise for Okonjo-Iweala, who was the first Nigerian woman to serve two terms as finance minister – first under President Olusegun Obasanjo from 2003 to 2006 – and secondly, under President Goodluck Jonathan from 2011 to 2015. Subsequently, from June to August 2006, she served as Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nigeria.
“What will it take to vaccinate the world? Unity, cooperation—and leaders like Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala,” wrote Prince Harry and Meghan, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, in the post accompanying Okonjo-Iweala’s selection.
“As the first African and first woman to lead the World Trade Organization, a 164-member group of nations that oversees trade across the world, Okonjo-Iweala took on the role of director-general this March at a watershed moment for our global health and well-being. Make no mistake, her job affects every person, family and community.
“As we face a constant barrage of vaccine misinformation, bureaucratic slowdowns across both government and industry, and the rise of variants that underscore the urgency of the situation, Okonjo-Iweala has shown us that to end the pandemic, we must work together to equip every nation with equitable vaccine access.”
Prince Harry and Meghan said their “conversations with her have been as informative as they are energizing. This is partly because, despite the challenges, she knows how to get things done—even between those who don’t always agree—and does so with grace and a smile that warms the coldest of rooms.
“The fragility of our world right now cannot be overstated. Just over a quarter of the nearly 8 billion global population is fully vaccinated.
“Achieving vaccine equity is a global duty of compassion for one another. Our hope is that guided by strong leaders like Ngozi, we can get there soon.”