Abuja - The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Olusegun Ashiru, says Nigeria’s alliance with Rwanda, Ethiopia and Kenya, assisted it to secure a commissionership position in the AU after 11 years of trying.
Ashiru disclosed this on Wednesday while briefing State House correspondents on the outcome of the Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan at the State House, Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the meeting was devoted to performance appraisal of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Finance in 2012.
Ashiru noted that after 11 years of the formation of the AU with Nigeria’s huge yearly contributions, the country had not been involved in decision making at the highest level of the union.
He said the country tried three times between 2003 and 2011 to secure one of the commissionership positions reserved for the West African sub-region, to no avail.
The minister said that when the Jonathan administration came into power in 2011, it decided to change the trend and make the country more relevant in the continental organisation.
``It was the president’s official visits to two African countries, Rwanda and Ethiopia that prepared the ground for us to form a strategic alliance christened, the G-4 at the ministerial level and strategising in the course of some multilateral conferences.
``This strategic alliance became so effective when Nigeria decided to field its former Ambassador to Guinea, Amb. Aisha Abdullahi, for the position of Commissioner for Political Affairs, in a hotly contested election in July 2012.
``The votes from the alliance with the countries of IGAD, the East and Central Africa sub-regions, provided Nigeria with enough votes to secure the required two-third majority.
``This was indeed, a success for Nigeria’s diplomacy.
``Today, Nigeria’s visibility at the AU is no longer in doubt, since we broke the unfortunate chain of losing elections at the continental level,’’ he said.
Ashiru also said that the country had maintained a robust presence at the UN and other world bodies since the advent of the Jonathan administration.
He said that through ``skilful planning and meticulous execution’’ the country secured 10 international positions and two endorsements in hotly contested elections.
The positions, according to him, include that of Mrs Oby Nwankwo, to the UN Committee on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and the election of Nigeria to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
The election of DCP Adamu Mohammed as Vice President of INTERPOL, re-election of the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke to the International Law Commission and Dr Chile Eboe-Osuji as one of the Judges of the ICC.
He also listed the election of Hon. Bethel Amadi as the President of the Pan African Parliament and the Deputy Senate President, Sen. Ike Ekweremadu, as the Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament.
Ashiru said Nigeria was also elected into the Governing Board of the International Atomic Energy Agency and as President of the Executive Board of the UN Entry for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (UN Women).
He said that the AU endorsed the candidature of Dr Kanayo Nwanze for re-election as President of IFAD, and the candidature of Dr Bernard Aliu for election as President of the Executive Council of the Canada-based International Civil Aviation Organisation.
Ashiru attributed the successes recorded to the effectiveness of the nation’s foreign policy machinery and the dedication of its diplomats.