President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday said he did not contest the chairmanship of the African Union with the union’s new helmsman, President Boni Yayi of the Republic of Benin.
He said contrary to some reports that he contested and lost, he instead facilitated the emergence of Yayi as the new AU boss.
The clarification was contained in a statement by the President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Abati described the reports insinuating that Jonathan contested and lost the election to Yayi as the latest in what he called a series of “sensational and fictional reporting” in a bid to cast the present administration in bad light.
He said, “It is not true that President Yayi Boni ‘defeated’ President Goodluck Jonathan in an election; there was no contest in the first place and President Jonathan was not a candidate for the AU Chairmanship position.
“It is also not true that President John Atta Mills opposed President Jonathan at any time. Ghana and Nigeria enjoy excellent relations.
“It is true, however, that in the last week, some newspapers have been speculating that President Jonathan may be adopted by the ECOWAS Heads of States and Governments to be the next chairman of the African Union, since it was the turn of ECOWAS to produce the AU Chairman for 2012-2013. Mr. President was indeed approached by leaders within and outside the West African sub-region to take up the challenge of leading the AU for the next one year.
“While appreciating this kind gesture, President Jonathan resolved that he needed time to focus on domestic affairs in Nigeria, and that it would be practically difficult for him to combine the three positions of President of Nigeria, Chairman of ECOWAS and Chairman of African Union. He therefore rejected the offer.”
Abati said in order to make his position clear, Jonathan in his capacity as ECOWAS Chairman, summoned a mini-Summit of ECOWAS at the AU Commission Headquarters, Addis Ababa on Saturday to ensure that there was a meeting of minds on the position of AU Chairman.