Nigeria favours "gradual" approach to Union Government

Accra- Ghana (PANA) -- Nigeria favours a "gradual approach" to the establishment of a Union Government in Africa because of the critical need to focus on strengthening and consolidating internal governance, according to President Umaru Yar'Adua.
Making Nigeria's contribution to the 'Grand Debate on Union Government' at the 9th summit of the AU in Accra, Ghana, President Yar'Adua noted that Nigeria had always supported the principle of the ultimate goal of the African Union being "a full and political integration leading to the evolvement of a United States of Africa".
Yar'Adua observed, however, that the critical issue before the Assembly of African leaders was the question of whether to fast-track the process or to pursue the same objective through "gradual incrementalism".
"Our perspective is mediated by the critical need at this point in our continent's developmental process, for the nations of Africa to focus more on the strengthening and consolidation of internal governance and growth structures, and on more robust regional integration," he said.
"Focus on inter-regional collaboration is equally critical especially considering that all the five regions of Africa face essentially the same challenges of poor infrastructure, inadequate energy, endemic poverty, and the twin bane of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis," President Yar'Adua told the gathering of African leaders in the Ghanaian capital in his first address to the AU summit since assuming office on 29 May 2007.
The President also said that the "critical importance" of a "definitive" identification and clarification of "the vital institutional and operational challenges" which the concept of Union Government throws up, strengthened the case for a gradualist approach.
"Dear colleagues, there are clear and present threats and challenges which we must face up to.
We cannot ignore the social, economic, and political inequalities within and among our member States which, if not bridged, would pose daunting obstacles on the march towards viable political and economic union.
" "Conversely, these issues, along with the challenges of conflict, disease and poverty, drive the imperative for us to present a united and common front in the global arena.
There is strength in the synergy that is only possible from functional unity," he added.
"This brings me to another critical variable in this debate: the degree of our commitment to our continental body and the essence of our Africanness.
To the extent that we continue to subscribe and owe more allegiance to extra-continental bodies to the neglect of the AU, our steps towards functional integration will remain faltering," he said.
Before the commencement of the debate, President Yar'Adua and the new Mauritanian President, Sidi Mohamed Ould Abdallahi, were formally received into the Assembly of African Heads of State and Government.

02 july 2007 19:43:00




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