Posted by Ifedayo Oshin on Sunday, July 5, 2015
From the 13th to 15th of June 2015, the newly inaugurated President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari was in South Africa for the AU summit at the Sandton International Convention Center in Johannesburg. Addressing his fellow Heads of State and government at the summit, President Buhari who chaired the AU Peace and Security Committee spoke on a number of issues about Nigeria and Africa in general.
President Buhari was full of praise for his South African counterpart, President Jacob Zuma and South Africa for what he called “their warm hospitality, and for the excellent arrangements made for our comfort and for the success of our meetings”. He also congratulated President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, for his unanimous election as the Chairman of AU.
Acknowledging the successful outcome of the historic and keenly contested election that brought him to power, President Buhari said the electoral process was “adjudged as the fairest and most credible in the history of elections in Nigeria, midwifed by the dogged and sustained determination of the Nigerian people, and their desire to deepen our democracy”. He also used the occasion to appreciate friends and partners in the international community who contributed to the success of the election. Magnanimous in victory, Buhari appreciated his predecessor former President Goodluck Jonathan for “averting the feared crisis, and in facilitating the peaceful transition of power between the two parties”.
President Buhari pointed attention of the summit delegations to the progress of the African Union; “we have been able to redirect our priorities at the continental level from mainly political goals to more diverse aspirations that are equally fundamental to our survival and development in a global community”, Buhari noted. Yet, the continent is not without daunting challenges that still bedeviled many of its member nations. He highlighted some of the major problems facing the continent:
“Some of the greater challenges to our peoples within this Union still lie in the political, economic, as well as peace and security spheres. Our continent is currently bedeviled by the twin evils of terrorism and insecurity; poverty, youth unemployment, and underdevelopment. The destructive effects of the inhuman and criminal campaigns of the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria and neighboring countries; the Al-Shabab attacks in East Africa, and the activities of the Al-Qaida in the Maghreb, all bear testimony to a continent under siege”, said the Nigerian president.
The best approach to some of the security and terrorism challenges, according to Buhari, is ‘to work within the framework of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) to mobilise collective support to fight against Boko Haram’ enhanced through complimentary regional and continental efforts. The president revealed some of his own initiatives for dealing with the insurgency in Nigeria:
“I have in this regard, directed the relocation of Nigeria’s Command Centre to place it closer to the theatre of action. Furthermore, I have vigorously engaged members’ states of the LCBC to better coordinate the strategies and tactics in fighting the insurgency in the region”.
Another major challenge that is also of grave concern to the Nigerian president is the images in the international mass media of African youths getting drowned in the Mediterranean Sea on their illegal attempts. Buhari said this is an embarrassment to African leaders and an unfavourable picture of the African peoples and countries.
President Buhari called his fellow leaders to duty of reversing the ugly trend. “We must put an end to the so-called push factors that compel our young men and women to throw caution to the winds and risk life, limbs and all, on this dangerous adventure. We must redouble our efforts to sustain the economic development of our countries, ensure empowerment of our youths, create more jobs, improve and upgrade our infrastructure, and above all continue the enthronement of a regime of democracy, good governance and respect for human rights and rule of law. These and other measures that engender peace and stability must be pursued relentlessly”.
He appealed to the African leaders “collective endeavour to work together through the African Union and our respective Regional Economic Communities (RECs), to uplift our continent and provide the African people the enabling environment for the realization of their legitimate dreams and aspirations”.
President Buhari also reiterated Nigeria’s unflinching commitment to the ideals and aspirations of the African Union which, he said “is geared towards ensuring a peaceful, prosperous and integrated Africa in the next 50 years. It is for this reason that Nigeria is fully and irrevocably committed to the ECOWAS vision. “Nigeria will therefore continue to play her part in supporting the African Union Commission and other continental and regional institutions in their efforts to prioritize African development in all sectors of human endeavour”, Buhari promised.
Mindful of the challenges ahead, President Buhari assured the august body that though the journey might look arduous, but it is certainly not impossible. He believes that there are opportunities in every challenge.
If and when we adopt this call for a change of attitude, approach, and disposition towards agreed protocols and commitments, we shall be bequeathing a politically stable, economically developed, and socially harmonious Africa, thereby justifying the confidence reposed in us by our electorates. We will also demonstrate our qualities as statesmen and true daughters and sons of Africa”, Buhari assured.
Speaking on the President’s attendance of AU summit, the Nigerian acting High commissioner to South Africa, Mr. Cobhams revealed the key highlights of the president’s participation as emphasis on collective action against terrorism and determination to end Boko Haram insurgency as well as violence flashpoints in Somalia, Burundi and Chad. Also brought to the fore were issues of youth unemployment and the urgent need to provide conducive environment for national development and economic growth in Africa.
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