Former vice president Dr Specioza Wandira Kazibwe’s campaign for the African Union Commission (AUC) chairperson slot has been bolstered with Nigeria stamping support for her bid.
The West African powerhouse officially wrote to Dr Kazibwe expressing approval of her credentials for the job and confidence in her ability to steer the 54-member state organisation, founded in 1963, then called Organisation of African Unity (OAU) by 32 post colonial African states.
In a letter dated June 14, the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria’s senate, Dr Abubaker Bukola Saraki, wrote in a personal note to Dr Wandira: “I wish to assure you that the National Assembly and Senate supports your bid and wishes you all the best in this and all your future endeavors.”
This nod from Nigeria, a considerable voice and opinion leader in the western part of the continent’s bloc (Economic Community of West African States), is likely to give cold feet to fellow West African state of Equatorial Guinea, whose foreign affairs minister Agapito Mba Mokuy, 51, is also vying for the same job alongside Botwana’s Pelonomi Venson Moitoi, 65.
Government has allocated Shs3.5billion to facilitate the candidate’s hunt for the coveted job.
This newspaper understands from credible sources close to the AUC chairperson election process that some African leaders have expressed reservations about Dr Kazibwe’s character and personality, seen by some as scoring low on diplomatic stature required of the job. The former vice president told this newspaper in an interview she started her campaign late last month with approval from 14 countries in Eastern Africa whom President Museveni, her chief campaigner, had reached out to. The trio will be elected at the AU summit to be held from July 10-18 in Kigali, Rwanda by an electoral college of the 54 member heads of state.
The office, which places its holder at the pinnacle of AU’s bureaucratic structure, essentially making them the CEO of the continental body charged with implementation of the heads of state vision for the continent, is currently occupied by South Africa’s Dlamini Zuma, who will not vie for a second term as she sets in motion her bid for the country’s presidency.
Dr Kazibwe’s campaign has seen her so far visit: Egypt, Ethiopia, Algeria, Sudan, Liberia, Rwanda, Ghana and Angola. So far Tanzania, Gambia, and Nigeria have written to express support for Uganda’s bid. Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga jetted out of the county on Sunday to persuade Congo Brazzaville, Central African Republic and Cameroon in a last ditch move to lend the campaign momentum.