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Ex-perm sec, director in trouble over AU seat loss

A retired Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a serving director are being investigated over the saga of Nigeria’s loss of the…

A retired Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a serving director are being investigated over the saga of Nigeria’s loss of the influential post of commissioner for peace and security of the African Union which took place earlier this year.

The serving director is in trouble for sending an illegal instruction to the Nigerian embassy in Algiers claiming that Nigeria was no longer interested in the said post and will thereby support Algeria’s Smail Chergui for the same post. 

A Presidency source familiar with the matter told Daily Trust that a query has already been issued to the director who before the matter blew open was among the career diplomats approved for appointment as ambassador by the Nigerian Senate. 

Daily Trust also learnt that the former Permanent Secretary fingered in the matter could also be investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC because of suggestions that money may have also been involved in compromising some key foreign service staff in relation to the matter.

"Clearly, therefore, 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, 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.

“While indeed there were note verbales to that effect, these notes were issued without the knowledge, let alone approval of the Minister of Foreign Affairs who, normally, will be the one to authorise such action on the express approval of the president. 

“Therefore, if anything, the government deserves commendation for keeping calm and abstaining to raise dust, despite initial indication of an external influence in the issuance of these highly embarrassing notes.

 “Government had, well before the 30th January elections, instituted an investigation into the matter. 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 of Commissioner, Peace and Security, were said to be behind the illegal, fraudulent and highly unpatriotic issuance of these infamous notes. 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. It will, therefore, be interesting to see how this case will be resolved,” he stated.

The official said by the assessment of the AU consultants and the testimonies of many other African and non-African personalities, bodies and organisations, the Nigeria’s candidate was highly qualified. 

“She is skilful, competent and experienced to do the job very well and indeed add value into the job with new and pragmatic ideas. She was selected, along with twelve other African mid-career leaders for the Eisenhower Fellowships’ 2016 Africa Program the Eisenhower the United States, but could not participate because it coincided with the preparations for the AUC election. She is now put on the global leadership programme,” he said.

The official described as untrue the assertion that Fatima is the daughter of the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Mallam Abba Kyari.

He said this was intended to generate bad feelings against Kyari and Buhari as well as to also denigrate the candidate by associating her with nepotism.

“This is much so because it does not take anything to cross check her lineage, if no malice was intended and if professionalism was a motivating, and guiding factor. The Chief of Staff met her for the first time ever after she became Nigeria’s candidate,” he clarified.

Speaking on how Fatima emerged the Nigeria’s candidate, the official said: “On the selection process, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama, indeed, chaired not only the meeting where prospective candidates were shortlisted, but he also chaired the interview panel which not only graded the candidates but also recommended names for the consideration of Mr. President.  

“Fatima Kyari was graded as second best candidate along with another female candidate. All the other candidates were also found to be competent and this reflects Nigeria’s strong human resource capital. “However, only one candidate was to be selected. While only Mr. President and possibly those who were privy to the final selection process could say why Fatima and not any of the other three highest rated candidates was approved, the AU rule regarding gender parity may 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. While Nigeria was still on the selection process – as always we were running late, Senegal and Ghana had already put forward candidates for the two top most posts of Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson respectively.  

“Fatima’s proficiency in French Language, among other set of skills also stood in her favour. On the much talked about ‘inexperience’, and/or ‘incompetence’ of the candidate, it is interesting to note 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 to hold the positions they wanted to compete for.

“Fatima went through this process as all other candidates did, and was duly cleared or 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.” 


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