Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, on Monday said Vice President Yemi Osinbajo will lead Nigeria’s delegation to the 27th Ordinary Session of the African Union (AU) from Saturday to July 18, in Kigali, Rwanda.

Mr. Onyeama stated this at a pre-AU session news briefing in Abuja.

He said the occasion would afford Nigeria the opportunity to showcase the successes recorded by the current administration.

The minister said the summit would also provide opportunity for critical appraisal of the 20 billion dollar Nigeria-Algeria trans-Saharan gas pipeline project under the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD).

When completed, the trans-saharan project would transport about 30 billion cubic metres of natural gas from Warri through Niger Republic to Algeria, officials said.

The pipeline would be operated by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Sonatrach of Algeria.

Both parties will hold 90 per cent shares of equities of the project, while the National Oil Company of Niger Republic will hold 10 per cent equity

According to Mr. Onyema, the Nigeria-Algeria gas pipeline is a major project of NEPAD the summit will give attention this year.

He said the summit with “African Year of Human Right” as theme would focus on women, adding that Nigeria was expected to share experience on the efforts on women empowerment.

“Nigeria will be letting other African countries to know what we are doing to promote human rights, including steps taken to extend and uphold human right while dealing with tumour in the country.

“The occasion will permit Nigeria the opportunity to showcase the successes recorded by this current administration in the area of human rights enthronement.

“As part of measures at enthroning human rights in the country particularly in the North-East, the administration has taken steps to de-militarize the zone as well as investigating and punishing reported cases of abuse,” he said.

The minister added that the summit would also focus on the full integration of the continent through the establishment of Free Trade Area and the African Union passport.

He described the adoption of AU’s passport, which would be issued to Heads of States and Governments of the African Union at the summit as a “major step towards trade liberalization in Africa.’’

While noting that 10 per cent of trade in Africa was among African countries, he said with AU passport coming into operation, it would be easier for member-countries to do business with each other.

Mr. Onyeama, however, stated that while the AU passport would allow freer movement of people in the continent, it would engender movement of arms to fuel violence.

But, he said that with the conscious efforts of member-countries, particularly in intelligence gathering and stringent border policing, the challenge of arms proliferation could be easily curtailed.

He emphasized that Africa’s integration was a win-win situation for all members, adding that Nigeria would benefit a lot from the situation as it would provide access to trade and a large market for the nation.

The minister also said Nigeria might not field any candidate for vacant positions in the AU during the meeting.

According to him, Nigeria had initially planned to sponsor candidate for the peace and security commission currently occupied by Algeria.

He explained that the country withdrew interest in the position following Algeria’s decision to retain the office.


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