At its crucial annual summit to elect the African Union, AU President and chairpersons for vital organs of the organisation, in Kigali, Rwanda, there were indications that Nigeria may not be elected into any serious post.
The AU Presidency is being hotly contested by three nations, which see themselves as the favourites to win the slot. The AU Presidential candidates are Botswana’s Foreign Minister, Dr. Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi; former Ugandan Vice President, Dr. Specioza Naigaga Wadira Kazibwe; and the Equatorial Guinea Foreign Minister, Agapito Mba Mokuy.
Sources say Nigeria may have seriously jeopardized its diplomatic position when a top official of its Foreign Affairs Ministry unilaterally declared to other AU member states that Nigeria was not interested in any of the key posts without seeking clearance and confirmation from the Presidency.
Following this declaration by the top Nigerian diplomat, other AU members, particularly from the Arab bloc, which had never had a stint at the AU Presidency, immediately swung into action to fill the post and other strategic committees of the body.
Vanguard reports that President Buhari was reportedly disappointed when he got to know that Nigeria had inadvertently been schemed out of the Presidency and other posts and immediately requested for the shifting of the elections by a year, apparently to enable Nigeria put its house in order and put up candidates.
To get the President’s position accepted by other AU members, the Presidency dispatched former Secretary to the Government of the Federation and one-time Foreign Minister, Babagana Kingibe, to lobby some influential African foreign ministers to acquiesce to the request.
However, the AU has pressed ahead with the Summit, which will culminate in the crucial election in Kigali, thereby putting Nigeria’s interest at bay.
This has left Nigeria with no serious strategy on how to win the AU Presidency or clinch two coveted posts of Peace and Security and Political Committees, which it had initially indicated interest.
Although a Nigerian from Kebbi State, Salamatu Suleiman, currently heads the Peace and Security Committee of the AU, some powerful elements in the Presidency have been working behind the scene to get her replaced by a former female Education Minister from Jigawa State, for reasons yet to be made public.
While the AU would prefer Suleiman to continue in that post, given her understanding of the dynamics of the Union and continental power, some hawks in the Presidency appear to be hell bent on foisting the former minister on the AU.