'Nigeria's President did not contest AU Chairmanship'

Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - The Nigerian presidency on Monday described as false and sensational some media reports that President Goodluck Jonathan was defeated by President Yayi Boni of Benin Republic in the contest to elect a new African Union (AU) Chairman at the current AU Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

A statement from Presidential Spokesman Reuben Abati in the Ethiopian capital, a copy of which PANA obtained here, expressed regret that the reports were “the latest in a series of sensational and fictional reporting in a bid to cast the administration of President Jonathan in
bad light.”

The statement said though President Jonathan was indeed approached by leaders within and outside the West African sub-region to take up the challenge of leading the AU for the next one year, he declined as he wants to concentrate on domestic issues and those of ECOWAS, which he currently chairs.

It said President Jonathan could not have been defeated because there was no contest in the first place, since he was not a candidate for the AU Chairmanship position.

The presidency also denied that Ghana opposed Nigeria's candidacy, saying the two countries enjoy excellent relations.

“It is true, however, that in the last week, some newspapers have been speculating that President Jonathan may be adopted  by the ECOWAS Heads of States and Governments to be the next chairman of the African Union, since it was the turn of ECOWAS to produce the AU Chairman for 2012-2013.

''Mr. President was indeed approached by leaders within and outside the West African sub-region to take up the challenge of leading the AU for the next one year. While appreciating this kind gesture, President Jonathan resolved that he needed time to focus on domestic affairs in Nigeria, and that it would be practically difficult for him to combine the three positions of President of Nigeria, Chairman of ECOWAS and Chairman of African Union. He therefore rejected the offer.

“In order to make his position clear, President Jonathan, in his capacity as ECOWAS Chairman, summoned a mini-Summit of ECOWAS at the AU Commission Headquarters on Saturday, January 28, 2012, to ensure that there was a meeting of minds on the position of AU Chairman.  His preference, he noted, would be for ECOWAS to adopt the leader of another country, in order to promote a sense of belonging among member-states. Nigeria, having occupied the position of AU Chairman four times in the past, would readily support any such country.

“As it turned out, the President of the Republic of Benin had indicated interest in the position, which paved the way for his unanimous adoption by the ECOWAS Heads of State as the sub-region’s candidate for the AU Chair,'' the statement said.
-0- PANA SEG 30Jan2012

30 january 2012 13:42:47




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