Reports from Addis Ababa, venue of the ongoing 18th African Union Assembly, indicate that Nigeria was given a severe diplomatic drubbing by other West African countries, which ferociously opposed President Goodluck Jonathan’s bid for the chairmanship of the continental body.
President of Benin Republic, Yayi Boni, was elected chairman after a mini-summit of the Economic Community of West African States, after the position was ceded to the West African bloc in the Union.
Mr. Boni replaced Equatorial Guinea’s president, Teodoro Obiang Nguema.
A source on Nigeria’s delegation to the summit said President Jonathan made a last-minute push for the position but was opposed by Ghana and other West African leaders who preferred to queue behind the Beninese president.
“The president decided in the last minute to stand as a way of boosting our country’s profile,” a presidency source said. “But it turned out to be very humbling and damaging for our country’s reputation as tiny African countries rose against us. We felt ashamed.”
“The truth is that a lot of members believe President Jonathan’s chairmanship of ECOWAS has been anything but inspiring,” the source said. “There are also those who did not want Nigeria to hold the chairmanships of ECOWAS and African Union at the same time.”
Premium Times also gathered that Mr. Jonathan made the push for the position after it was already agreed that Mr. Boni should be put forward for the position, a development said to have angered other West African leaders.
A bruised Mr. Jonathan has since congratulated Mr. Yayi, saying he had “no doubt that under his leadership our Union will build on the progress recorded last year.”
In a speech he gave at the Assembly Sunday, the president also paid tribute to President Nguema “for his stewardship of our Union through what was, undoubtedly, a very difficult and challenging year.
“Under his leadership, we weathered the storm of the political crises in Cote d’Ivoire, Tunisia, Egypt and Libya,” Mr. Jonathan said.
As at the time of publishing this, Premium Times was still expecting the presidency’s explanation on what transpired in Addis Ababa regarding the president’s chairmanship bid.
When contacted, Aso Rock spokesperson, Reuben Abati, said he was still in the Ethiopian capital, and requested that our enquiry should be sent to him through a text message.
We did. But he is yet to respond.
Nigeria is the biggest country in West Africa in terms of resources, population and landmass. But it is also the most mismanaged, almost always playing poorly in international politics.