News and Information

Obasanjo Now AU Chairman
July 7, 2004

Daily Champion (Lagos)

July 7, 2004
Posted to the web July 7, 2004


PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo has been elected chairman of the African Union (AU) at the on-going summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Consequently, Nigeria will host the next summit of the AU in July 2005.

President Obasanjo, who accepted the position, promised to work with fresh vigour to tackle the continent's debt problem and speed up Africa's socio-economic development.

President John Kuffour of Ghana who confirmed Obasanjo's election at a special prayer session preceeding the opening of the summit, had called for "special prayers to be offered for our incoming chairman President Olusegun Obasanjo."

With Obasanjo's assumption of the leadership of AU, he has added another feather to his cap as an international statement.

He currently occupies the chair at the Commonwealth, the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) implementation committee and also heads the NEPAD peer review mechanism committee.

Diplomatic sources said President Obasanjo was now well positioned to carry his colleagues along in his ongoing efforts to secure peace and security in Africa and also in speeding up its development.

In an acceptance speech he gave shortly after the country was given the mandate to chair the union, Obasanjo assured his colleagues that Nigeria would not falter in her efforts to provide excellent leadership during her tenure.

He said Nigeria was highly honoured to have been elected chair of the AU assembly and pledged that the country would do her best to move the union forward and get the continent on the path of speedy development.

"I promise to discharge the functions of the office with utmost diligence and commitment," Obasanjo said, adding that the country would also spare no effort to justify the confidence that was reposed in her by other member AU nations.

He said that Nigeria would, at all times, strive to promote the unity and solidarity as well as the sustainance of the continent's hard-earned independence, while counting on the support of other AU member states.

"Nigeria will also count on the valuable support of all of you in our collective effort to vigorously pursue these ideals.

"We shall continue to promote cooperation and integration as well as the sustainable development of our continent," the President said.

He said that Nigeria would work together with all member states, the commission as well as all stakeholders with renewed determination to accelerate the socio-economic development of Africa.

"We intend to work together with the commission to accelerate the ongoing restructuring in the commission to bring the process to a speedy conclusion in order to enhance its service delivery capacity," he said.

Obasanjo declared: "We intend to confront headlong, the conflict situations in Africa with renewed vigour and determination.

"We like to enlist the support of members of the Union, especially its peace and security council and other development partners to achieve the goal."

He pledged that Nigeria would also work during its tenure, to ensure that Africa remained firmly on the agenda of the G-8, the EU and other partners in the effort to "accelerate the socio-economic development of the continent."

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West Africa

Among other things, the president said that his tenure would give attention to the continent's debt issue.

He said attention would also be given to Africa's belief in multi-lateralism as the best option to handle issues of peace and collective security arrangement as enshrined in the UN charter.


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