Analysis: On the AU Commission elections, Nigeria messed up

by Mark Amaza

The recent elections of the African Union Commission have come and gone, and a new chairperson of the commission has been elected: Chad’s Moussa Mahamat replaces South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. In addition to the top office, there were also elections to replace the Deputy Chairperson and eight commissioners that have been in office for three to four years.

In one of those elections, Nigeria’s Fatima Mohammed ran against the incumbent Smail Chergui of Algeria for Commissioner for Peace and Security. Sadly, she lost.

However, the curious decision by Nigeria to field Mrs. Mohammed for that office against an incumbent who had the votes rounded up well ahead of time has left us confused. Even more confusing is the fact that we did not field Aisha Laraba Abdullahi, another Nigerian who has been holding the office of Commissioner for Political Affairs since 2012 and is eligible for re-election.

From all accounts, Mrs. Abdullahi has done creditably well in bringing political matters on the continent to the front-burner of the Commission, and would have easily won re-election. We made matters worse that we did not field another Nigerian in Abdullahi’s place even if rumors of her being disliked by the powers-that-be in Abuja for quite puerile reasons are true.

In the end, we allowed Burkina Faso to win a position that was ours to lose, and ended up with not a single commissioner on the commission.

It is really disappointing that we end up shooting ourselves in the foot, and extending whatever dirty politics played locally and nonchalance to advancing ourselves to the continental stage. It is quite a shame that a country of Nigeria’s stature and reputation is unable to win a single seat on the AU Commission because it did not play its politics well.

As a result, the ability of Nigeria to influence the direction of the commission has diminished, and it will play the onlooker when important decisions are being taken within the commission.

There needs to be a consensus amongst our politicians that no matter what squabbles they might be having between themselves, it should not be at the expense of our nation.

We have seen how in recent past, they put partisanship and politics aside to further the influence of the country when officials of the previous administration under former President Goodluck Jonathan and the incumbent administration, as well as top politicians from both parties came together to lobby fellow African countries to vote former Minister of Agriculture, Akinwunmi Adesina as the President of the African Development Bank.

We do hope that the Nigerian government, both this one and future ones to come learn from this debacle and ensure that such does not repeat itself.

They owe the country better.

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