Nigeria presses for AU commissionership to be zoned to W/Africa

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Olugbenga Ashiru, says Nigeria is still backing the preferred candidate of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for the chairmanship of the African Union (AU) Commission.

Mr. Ashiru said this in an interview with State House Correspondents shortly after a breakfast session organised by the President, Goodluck Jonathan, for the members of Presidential Advisory Council on Foreign Relations.

“We have not shifted ground, we are working in concert with the ECOWAS group and we will remain with ECOWAS group”.

“Any decision taken by ECOWAS, Nigeria will be there and you know Nigeria is the natural leader of that sub-region; …but it is when we get there to Addis that we will see the ground and will stay where our other members would stay,” Mr. Ashiru said

At the last AU Summit in January in Addis-Ababa, ECOWAS had declared its support for the incumbent Chairperson, Jean Ping of Gabon.

South Africa had fielded its Home Affairs Minister, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, as its chairmanship candidate for the AU Commission.

The election was inconclusive because neither Messrs Ping nor Dlamini-Zuma was able to secure the two-third majority needed to win.

Hence, African leaders at the January Summit had shelved the election until the 19th AU Summit initially billed for Malawi, but now to hold in Addis-Ababa.

Also at a meeting of the AU Ad-hoc committee held on July 14 in Cotonou, Benin Republic, failed to break the impasse on the chairmanship of the AU Commission.

In a related development, Mr. Ashiru said Nigeria had intensified its campaign to clinch the AU commissionership position zoned to West Africa.

According to the minister, the position will be determined by elections by member-states at the next summit.

“We are doing our campaign round the member states and we hope that when we get to the Summit Nigeria will muster enough votes to be able to fill that position of commissionership”.


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