The Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, on Friday expressed optimism that Fatima Mohammed, Nigerian/ECOWAS candidate for Commissioner for Peace and Security, African Union Commission would clinch the position.
Mr. Onyeama told the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, at the 28th AU Summit in Addis Ababa that given that Nigeria’s priority was peace and security, it had a better chance of securing the seat.
He said Nigeria was not just focusing on intervening in conflicts but also ensuring peace after conflict.
Identifying Algeria as the strong contestant among five countries including Burundi, Malawi, Mauritania and Botswana, vying for the post, he said that should not however be a problem because the country had been occupying the post for more than 16 years now.
“We also feel that it is probably not appropriate for a union such as AU of sort to almost like reserve a portfolio for one particular country.
“I think every country must begin to play a role and as I said we have a good candidate, we are not just focusing on intervening in conflicts”, he said.
The Minister however noted that the incumbent from Algeria had done a good job which Nigeria could build on.
`We also want to look at it holistically so that means conflict prevention, looking at strategies for that and peace building after conflict,” he said.
The above issues, he said, are inter-linked and important and required different approaches for peace and security to reign on the continent.
According to Onyeama, in addition to having the backing of the Federal Government, Ms. Mohammed also has an impressive pedigree having worked on peace and security matters within ECOWAS as well as civil society.
“We believe we have a very good candidate and we believe that peace and security is a priority for Nigeria and that we can contribute a lot.
“We have peace keeping troops all around Africa; we have invested a lot in setting up the multinational joint task force in West Africa, and we are playing a very important role in the trouble spots”.
“Nigeria’s tradition of being in the forefront, dates back to the early 1960s in the Congo.”
Mr. Onyeama said the quest for the post by Nigeria was consistent with the priority position accorded security by the present administration.
He explained further that a high powered committee of prominent individuals of which he and the minister of state, Khadija Bukar-Ibrahim, are members was set up by government to canvass for support for the post.
Others in the delegation he said included Minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed; Minister of Steel Development, Kayode Fayemi; Ibrahim Gambari and Baba Gana-Kingibe both former Foreign Affairs Minister.