Inside Politics

Former Nigeria President Obasanjo endorses Raila for AU’s top job

Thursday, February 15th, 2024 14:57 | By
Former Nigeria President Obasanjo endorses Raila for AU's top job
Former Nigeria President Olusegun Obasanjo and ODM party leader Raila Odinga moments before they addressed a press conference in Nairobi on Thursday, February 15, 2024. PHOTO/The ODM Party(@TheODMparty)/X

Former Nigeria President Olusegun Obasanjo has thrown his weight behind Raila Odinga's bid for the African Union (AU) top job.

Speaking to members of the press in Nairobi on Thursday, February 15, Obasanjo expressed his confidence that Raila is the right man for the position of AU chairman and asked countries in the East African Community (EAC) to back his candidature.

“I have no doubt that my friend (Raila) is a viable candidate but subject to views, feelings, positions and presentations of our leaders in the East Africa sub-region,” Obasanjo stated.

The former Head of State further expressed his belief that it is East Africa's opportunity to occupy the high office.

“Not too long ago we had Southern Africa, one occupying the seat now is Central Africa. Before that, we had West Africa,” he noted.

“If the region can come together and put the candidate forward, then that is how it should be."

Obasanjo is AU's High Representative for the Horn of Africa, having been appointed in 2021.

The former president's remarks come amid reports of intense lobbying to have Raila succeed Moussa Faki Mahamat, whose term will elapse in March next year.

President William Ruto is said to have recently personally approached Raila to offer himself for the AU role.

However, Ruto's move is seen by a section of the political class as an attempt to keep Raila busy away from Kenya's political arena, where he has been a thorn in the side of the Kenya Kwanza administration.

Meanwhile, Raila on Thursday formally declared that he was ready to contest for the AU plum job.

The former prime minister stated that he had made up his mind on the matter after consulting widely among friends.

“The general Olusegun Obasanjo has said he is one of my closest friends in the continent and has intimated that should there be an interest I will be keen to serve the continent of Africa," Raila stated.

Raila said that he was the best fit for the job, having served as the African Union (AU) special envoy for infrastructure development in Africa from 2018 to 2023, a position which helped him understand the socio-economic conditions across the continent.

"That position gave me a good advantage to be able to learn about each and every African country and I believe that working with all these countries we can be able to emancipate Africa," he said.

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