The long awaited 34th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the AU has come and gone, and the foremost continental organization championing the interest of Africa is now under a new leadership.
For many of the followers of Fatoumatta Tambajang, the hopes and expectation was high as we were all focused on how her emergence to the seat of the 1st Female Deputy Chairperson of the AU Commission will impact the functionaries of the organization and the continent at large. But alas that was not to be as she once again towed the sacrificial lane for her noble ambition, regardless of the fact that she is seemingly the favourite to clinch the position because of her heroic reputation and wealth of experience.
Gender activist and technocrats in the continent who has been following footprints of her exploit in the continent , were downcast when the news arrived that Her Excellency Fatoumatta Tambajang has pulled the plugs on her bid for the position of AU Deputy Chairperson, after a deliberation among ECOWAS leaders who opted that its members withdraw from other positions of interest in the continental union and strengthen Nigeria’s interest and the regions position in the election, a ploy that resulted in Nigeria clinching the position of AU Commissioner for Peace.
“On February 2nd, ECOWAS Heads of States had an extraordinary summit via video conference and decided to have Ghana and The Gambia step down their Candidates for Deputy Chairperson of the AU. This means that I am no longer in the running for deputy chairperson of the AUC. Côte d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso and Gambia all also withdrew their commissioner candidates as well, in order to allow Nigeria to run as a sole regional candidate as commissioner of peace.” She tweeted
“… above all, I will continue to champion the cause of African women as I’ve always done throughout my career just as I mentioned in my last campaign interview recorded on February 1st with the BBC News Africa: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p09654tw” She further explained via her twitter handle.
Again Mrs. Tambajang has chosen the collective interest of the group over that of the individual ,setting aside her personal ambition, thereby instituting yet another example for emerging and young leaders on the continent on the need to imbibe the culture of inclusion of diverse perspectives in decision making and to consistently follow the social pattern in which the concerns of the group assumes a position of ascendance over individual interests.
Her recent action with the other West Africans in the race for the AU Chairperson, has amplified a traditional view of society that highlights loyalty, trust, and cooperative attitudes within the group over the desire of an individual. Although the origin of this philosophy is embedded in most traditional African family institution, it is emerging in the international discourse as a facilitator of the global democratic social model ,it is also used as an analogy for characterizing different forms of organization and social relationships.
Fatoumatta Tambajang has consistently ensured that leadership by examples does not remain as just a slogan in our literature and has consistently towed the path by showing with actions what it means to loves ones continent and its people.
The Mother of the Gambia struggle risked her life to emerge as the architect of ‘Coalition 2016’, bringing together eight political parties to uproot Gambia’s 22-year dictatorship ,which enhanced her position as one of the most influential and respected women in Africa.
During her time of work for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) she spent 5 years in war-torn Mano River. In 2001, whilst working in the African Great Lakes, she was the victim of a rebel hostage situation.
Regardless of her high profiled status, she embarked on a trip to Nigeria on economy class without an assistant, to deliver a paper at the 2018 African Elders and Women Intercultural Dialogue in Abuja, an event that contributed in the higher ranking of Nigeria in the 2019 US Department of state trafficking in persons report ,which Nigeria was on the tier 2 watch-list the previous year.
Thanks to the rave of her participation and wisdomic contributions which went further to enhance the public sensitization on the dangers of trafficking, which of course was also complimented by efforts of the Nigerian Government to stem the tide of the crime in the nation.
Her private discussions with the organizers after the dialogue inspired the maiden steps towards setting up Africans Against Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling (AATSOM) a multi sectoral coalition of civic societies, cultural leaders and other stakeholders relevant in the fight against trafficking to totally eliminate trafficking in the African continent.
All eyes are now on AU new leadership, as the confirmation of President Felix Tshisekedi of the Congo Democratic Republic as the new Chief of the African Union replacing South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, whose time in office was plagued with the global covid-19 pandemic was cemented.
Ramaphosa will be remembered for his innovative efforts, the resilience with which he navigated Africa through the social inconsistencies associated with the covid-19 pandemic. Pundits have turned their glare on Tshisekedi and what his time in office will yield to Africans and how he will impact the position of the continent in the global space.
Cookey Iwuoha is a passionate creative writer, poet and published author. He is the publisher of Nigerian Eye Newspaper , a Young Africa Leadership Initiative (YALI) Alumni of Barrack Obama Foundation, and has participated in other capacity development programs like United Nation Foundation’s Virtual Reporting Fellowship, Centre for Human Rights Certificate on African Human Right System and Amnesty International’s Freedom of Expression Certificate program among others.