The Federal Government has instituted a panelo investigate Nigeria’s failure to clinch the post of Commissioner for Peace and Security of the African Union (AU).
A top official at the presidency, who preferred anonymity, confirmed this development to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Tuesday.
Nigeria contested for the position of the post of Commissioner for Peace and Security at the AU meeting in Addis Ababa on Jan. 30 and lost the election to the incumbent, Algeria.
The source told NAN that the constitution of the panel was informed by suspected acts of sabotage by some staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
According to the source, a senior official of the ministry has already been identified as the brain behind the plot against Nigeria before and during the election.
The source disclosed that a serving director and two retired permanent secretaries with reported ties to one of the candidates from a friendly country that vied for the same position were behind the unpatriotic act.
The officials were said to have released “infamous notes” against Nigeria’s interest.
The source said that the official single-handedly wrote a letter to express Nigeria’s support for the Algerian candidate in spite of the fact that a Nigerian, Fatima Kyari, was contesting for the same position.
“The serving director had since been issued with a query.
“This, certainly, is another case of suspected fraud and corruption which, by the way, is also endemic in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in its more than one hundred missions abroad,” the source said.
“Clearly, Nigeria’s failure to clinch the post can only be attributed to other factors and not the quality of its candidate.
“”In this kind of elections, countries base their voting pattern more on political and other considerations than on the substantive quality – competence, skills and experience – of candidates.
“”This pattern is clearly reflected in the elections of all the other categories, including that of the Chairperson and the Deputy Chairperson of the AU Commission.
“”Most worrisome and unfortunate is the issue of the so-called Note Verbal issued by our embassies in Addis Ababa and Algiers, conveying a decision by the Federal Government of Nigeria to withdraw from the race in favour of Algeria.
“The truth is that there was no such decision by the government,’’ he said.
The source said that Nigeria deserved to be commended at the way it reacted to the outcome of the election.
“If anything, the government deserves commendation for keeping calm and abstaining from raising dust in spite of initial indication of external influence in the issuance of these highly embarrassing notes.”
The source also disclosed that the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, chaired the selection process where prospective candidates for the position were shortlisted.
Onyeama, the source said, also chaired the interview panel, which graded and recommended names of candidates for the consideration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said that the candidate that emerged after the entire screening process, Fatima Kyari, was graded as second best along with another female candidate, though the other candidates were also found competent.
“However, only one candidate was to be selected, and only the president and possibly, those who were privy to the final selection process, could say why Kyari and not any of the other three highest rated candidates, was approved.
“The AU rule regarding gender parity might have been a determining factor in favour of a female candidate.
“The rule requires that the two commissioners from each of the five regions must be a male and a female,” the source said.
He added that while Nigeria was still on the selection process, Senegal and Ghana had already put forward candidates for the two top posts of Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the AU Commission.
The source maintained that Kyari’s proficiency in French language among other skills also worked in her favour, and dismissed the insinuation that she was “inexperienced” and/or “incompetent” for the job.
He disclosed that the AU contracted an independent consulting firm that evaluated, assessed and cleared those who were adjudged to have the requisite skills, experience and competence for the positions they applied for.
According to the source, Kyari went through this process as all other candidates did and was duly cleared otherwise she would not have been allowed to run.
“It, therefore, amounts to ignorance, malice and/or mischief to label the candidate as inexperienced and incompetent to serve as Commissioner at the AUC.
“The candidate is indeed highly qualified not only by the assessment of the AU consultants, but also by the testimonies of many other African and non-African personalities, bodies and organisations.
“”She is skillful, competent and experienced to do the job very well and indeed add value to the job with new and pragmatic ideas.”
The source recalled that Kyari was selected among African mid-career leaders for the 2016 Africa Programme of Eisenhower Fellowship in the US, but could not participate because it coincided with preparations for the AUC election.
He also dismissed the report claiming that the candidate was the daughter of Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari.
“The assertion, including those in some major media, that Fatima is the daughter of the Chief of Staff to the President is utterly callous and malicious.
“It was clearly made with the intention to generate bad feelings against not only the Chief of Staff but the President, and to also denigrate the candidate by associating her with nepotism.
“”This is more so because it does not take anything to crosscheck her lineage, if no malice was intended and if professionalism was a motivating and guiding factor.’’
According to him, the Chief of Staff met her for the first time ever after she became Nigeria’s candidate. (NAN)