Visit of the African Union Commission Chairperson to Nigeria
The Chairperson of the AUC, Moussa Faki Mahamat, undertook a two-day official visit to Nigeria from 25 to 27 October 2018. The visit is part of his regular consultations with member states, to advance the African Union agenda.
On 25 October 2018, the Chairperson attended a roundtable, chaired by Foreign Minster Geoffrey Onyeama and attended by the Ministers of Interior, Finance, Budget and National Planning, the National Security Advisor, the Controller Generals of Customs and Immigration, and the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Also in attendance were senior officials of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Federal Inland Revenue Service, the Civil Aviation Authority, the Ministry of Transport and Aviation, and the national focal point for NEPAD.
The theme of the meeting was “Repositioning Nigeria in the African Union”. The discussion focused on how best to expedite the integration process on the continent, in the light of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, the Right of Residence and the Right of Establishment, and the Single African Air Transport Market.
The Chairperson of the Commission seized the opportunity to also brief on progress made on the African Union institutional reform, as well as the follow-up to the decision of the July 2018 Nouakchott Summit relating to the negotiations on the post-Cotonou arrangements with the European Union.
The Chairperson also met with representatives of the Organized Private Sector, to exchange views on the AfCFTA and the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons. This interaction provided an opportunity for in-depth discussions on the concerns expressed by the private sector and the steps taken in the context of the negotiations on the AfCFTA to address them.
On 26 October, the Chairperson was received by President Muhammadu Buhari. He commended President Buhari for his leadership and Nigeria’s longstanding commitment to African unity and advancement. He further commended Nigeria’s role in the operationalization of the Multi-national Joint Task Force, noting the successes achieved in the fight against Boko Haram, and its overall contribution to the efforts to silence the guns on the continent by 2020.
The Chairperson updated President Buhari on the Extraordinary Summit on the African Union institutional reform, scheduled to take place in Addis Ababa from 17 to 18 November 2018.
The Chairperson visited the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). He was briefed by the Chairman on the preparations being made for the upcoming General Elections in 2019. The INEC Chairman informed him that, in this exercise, INEC is implementing the observations and recommendations made by the African Union observer team during the 2015 elections.
The Chairperson commended INEC for its efforts to ensure the conduct of peaceful and credible elections, and confirmed that the African Union will deploy observers and avail any other assistance, as may be required, to the electoral process.
The Chairperson also visited the National Defence College (NDC), where he delivered a lecture on “Integration, Good Governance and Democracy: The Africa We Want”. He commended the NDC for its contribution to strategic thinking and policy planning on peace, security and governance, and for housing a Center of Excellence for Peace Support Operations Training in West Africa.
The Chairperson held an interactive stakeholders’ meeting with the Nigerian Film Industry, popularly known as Nollywood. He expressed appreciation for the talent, creativity and dynamism of Nollywood, as a demonstration of the continent’s resourcefulness.
He added that the Nollywood actors were shaping the image of the continent for the better, while at the same time serving as role models for African youth to encourage them to discover and realize their talents and, in so doing, take advantage of the huge opportunities available on the continent. Going forward, it was agreed that the African Union and Nollywood will partner to further popularize Agenda 2063 and related African Union activities.
The Chairperson visited the Headquarters of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), where he exchanged views with ECOWAS Commissioners on issues of mutual interest, most notably the promotion of peace, security, governance and integration, as well as efforts to strengthen collaboration between the African Union and the Regional Economic Communities, including ECOWAS.
The Chairperson also took advantage of his visit to address the staff of the African Union Scientific, Technical and Research Commission, which is mandated to promote the role of science, technology and research.
During his visit to Nigeria, the Chairperson was accompanied by the Commissioner for Trade and Industry and the Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology, as well as by senior officials of the Commission.