By Lizzy Okoji
If Ambassador Bankole Adeoye becomes the African Union (AU) Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, the fight against terror in the ECOWAS sub-region will be strengthened.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
He said he was optimistic that the Nigerian ambassador, who the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government has endorsed, would win the election to the AU position coming up on Feb. 6 and Feb. 7.
“Nigeria has a lot to benefit because we can leverage more easily on the African Union to also support our fight against terrorism in West Africa, including Nigeria.
“And to support more coherently the multinational Joint Task Force of which Nigeria is a leading member, a coalition of countries against Boko Haram.
“So the very concrete benefit is that we would now be able to have greater cohesion between what the African Union is doing on peace and security and what ECOWAS and Nigeria are doing.
“And I think that is something that is not as strong as it should be now,” Onyeama said.
Onyeama described Adeoye’s candidacy as a unique development given the fact that the ECOWAS leaders “have thrown all their weight behind him and endorsed him as ECOWAS’ candidate.”
“It has been very good, a unique situation there because all the ECOWAS countries had candidates, most of them very good candidates.
“And at the level of the Presidents of all those countries, they agreed to withdraw all their candidates and just present Nigeria almost as a sub-regional candidate for the position of political Affairs, Peace and Security.
“Now, one of the main reasons being for West Africa, Peace and Security is number one priority and they also feel that Nigeria as a country has the wherewithal to take advantage of that position as commissioner, to make a difference for not just West Africa but Africa.
“So that is very very good and the voting is today and tomorrow.
“So we are hopeful because the other sub-regions, Northern Africa, Eastern Africa, and Southern Africa also have candidates. So we still have to battle.
“But the fact that we have the whole of West Africa behind us gives us a very good chance of securing this position,” Onyeama added.
Adeoye is Nigeria’s former member to the African and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).
He was Ambassador to Ethiopia and Djibouti between 2017 to 2020.
Adeoye was ranked overall best candidate in an independent assessment by the AU panel of eminent Africans.