* Utilize strength as the largest regional grouping in the world.
* Commit to the universal ratification and domestication of the Maputo Protocol for women’s rights and empowerment of women by the end of this year.
* Insist on real partnership with the United Nations and a radical reform of the UN Security Council to give (African nations) greater representation and stronger voice in the organ.
The African Ambassadors Group in the Federal Republic of Nigeria concluded the observance of the 53rd Africa Day Celebrations with an elaborate program held at the Sheraton Hilton Hotel in Abuja on May 25.
The evening’s colorful program was characterized by brief speeches, cultural and musical performances, poetry, a buffet dinner of cuisine of various African dishes and the Second Annual Africa Day Raffle Draw.
Other members of the Diplomatic Corps from non-African missions, representatives from the Federal Government and various regional and multilateral organizations graced the well-attended event.
During the program, the Acting Dean of the African Ambassadors Group, the Ambassador of Cameroon, Salaheddine Abbas Ibrahim, spoke of the importance of Africa Day.
Ambassador Ibrahim, in summary, explained the formation in 1963 of the Organization of Africa Union (OAU) and its evolution in 2002 into what is now the African Union (AU).
Earlier in the day, a public lecture was held in the auditorium of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Ambassador Ibrahim Gambari, former Foreign Minister of Nigeria, delivered the lecture centered on the AU’s 2016 theme “African Year of Human Rights with a Special Focus on the Rights of Women.”
He urged all African Union member states to commit to the universal ratification and domestication of the Maputo Protocol by the end of this year, if women must form an integral part of all development efforts on the continent.
“The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in collaboration with African Union, its Commission and its human rights mechanisms should support this endeavor,” he urged.
Ambassador Gambari spoke of Africa’s need to utilize its strength as the largest regional grouping in the world.
“If you don’t have ambition for yourself, no one else would,” he told the African heads of mission.
Concluding, he added: “First, women rights and empowerment of women should be regarded as inseparable from broader human rights for all peoples. Second, states, civil society and youths and the general population in Africa need to be sensitized on human rights issues for a better understanding of international human rights mechanisms.
“Third, increased awareness, promotion and protection of the rights of women should be regarded as non-negotiable. Fourth, there is a need to change the old narrative about Africa in order to catch up with the reality of new and huge opportunities in Africa for investments and partnership for mutual benefits to the Africans and the rest of the world.
“Fifth, as Africans build on the progress made in resolving their political and security crises, and promote socioeconomic challenges facing them, they should also strengthen their continental organization and insist on real partnership with the United Nations and a radical reform of the UN Security Council to give them greater representation and stronger voice in the organ that has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.”
Ambassador Gambari then responded to questions from some of the attending African heads of mission at the event including the High Commissioner of Ghana, William Azumah Awinador-Kanyirige and the Ambassador of Senegal, Baboucar Sambe, among others.
The High Commissioner of Namibia to Nigeria, Dr. Peingeonjabi T. Shipoh, on behalf of the group, thanked Ambassador Gambari for his lecture.
The Liberian ambassador to Nigeria, Professor Al-Hassan Conteh, served as the Master of Ceremonies for both afternoon and evening events.
In a related development, the African Ambassadors Group over the weekend paid a humanitarian visit to the New Kuchingoro Internally Displaced Persons’ (IDP) Camp in Galadimawa, near Games Village in Abuja. The African heads of mission identified with the almost 1,500 IDP’s with the donation of an assortment of food items and medicines valued at millions of naira.
The commemoration of Africa Day focuses on the objective of the AU, which is to promote “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena.”
On May 25 1963 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the 32 African states that had achieved independence at that time agreed to establish the OAU. A further 21 members joined gradually, reaching a total of 53 by the time of the AU’s creation in 2002. On 9 July 2011, South Sudan became the 54th AU member.