Nigeria Guns for UN Security Council Seat

By Thisday Nigeria
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Nigeria has intensified efforts to secure a non-permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council, THISDAY has learnt.

The last time the country sat at the Council was 15 years ago - 1994/95. It was its third time.

THISDAY gathered that the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of African States (ECOWAS) have given their support by endorsing Nigeria's candidacy.

A political campaign to win the required number of votes for the seat kicked off sometime last month at the Nigerian Permanent Mission in New York.

To sit on the Council in January 2010, it would have to win the elections taking place on October 15th. Out of 192 countries, the country is required to secure at least two-thirds of the votes.
Nigeria's Permanent Representative to the UN, Prof. Joy Ogwu, said Nigeria must campaign and lobby hard. She explained that this would entail reaching out to friends and foes of the country in all the world capitals.

The responsibility does not squarely lie on the country's permanent mission in New York, she explained.

“We expect to lobby and intensify our campaign at all levels. Nigerian representatives across the world must market the country. We must not take anything for granted or rest on our oars,” said Ogwu.
“We have to be good sales people, mobilize our power to persuade and not regard it as a given. I am optimistic. We must mobilize all our resources – financial and goodwill at our disposal,” she added.
THISDAY gathered that the non-permanent seat, which rotates on a regional basis, had two other contenders namely Sierra Leone and Togo. It was further learnt that Togo even sought the support of Nigeria for the same position while Sierra Leone made her interest known to ECOWAS member states.

Both countries have served on the Council only once, with Sierra Leone taking a shot in 1970/71 and Togo in 1982/83. The two countries backed down after a consensus was reached on the candidate for the West Africa seat.

Africa operates a consensus-based candidature and the continent has a number of seats shared between the West, East, North and Southern parts.

On the importance of seating on the Council, Ogwu said: “To be there, even on a non-permanent basis, you are part of the decision-making. You not only have opportunity to contribute to the objectives and principles but the lessons learned from active participation can be used in governance at home. It makes our country more visible, with our power of persuasion crystallizes your country's convictions and principles on global issues.”

Nigeria's fourth two-year tenure at the Council will be taking place during a period of critical change in the world and new challenges to the UN, observes Ogwu. It is an opportunity to articulate the country's support for the bedrock principles of the UN and Nigeria's national interests too, she added.

Furthermore, co-operation between the world body and the African continent could be promoted and enhanced within the political framework available at the Council, she argued.

Ogwu further commented on the challenges of her office. She told THISDAY she chose to build on the efforts of her predecessors.

According to her, the assumption by people that they can only write on a clean slate each time one assumes a responsibility is retrogressive. No one leader or institution can fulfill its mission in one day, she argued.

“Policy decision making is a scaffold,” said she.
There are 15 seats at the Security Council – five permanent and 10 non-permanent. The permanent members are the United States, the United Kingdom, China, Russia and France.

Other countries seat on a rotating basis for a period of two years. But powerful nations such as Japan get back into the race at the end of their tenure, mainly because of their massive contributions to the UN.

Nigeria has been active at the UN in the last one year.. The country currently chairs the Second Committee (will step down in September) and the Special Committee on Peace- keeping Operations (C34).