The Organization Of African Unity (OAU) To African Union (AU) The Journey So Far
The African Union (AU) is an entity that continues to work for the integration in the continent to enable it plays its rightful role in the global economy while addressing multi-faceted socio-economic and political problem. The United Africa (UA) has a long history and is the unique product of social and cultural attitude of Africa, today, the AU is the Organization of African Unity (OAU). The UAU is regarded as a more progressive and progressive political and legal document in pursuing and meeting the challenges of greater unity and solidarity, democracy, good governance and respect for human rights, conflict management and peace building, and socioeconomic development in Africa. It is therefore imperative for member states to ensure that the highest caliber of personnel is made available to work in the Commission and to mobilize and provide prompt and adequate financial resources to the Union so that it can be viable and credible. This is then and Hilly then that the criticism, disillusionment, bitterness and anger of the seeming impotence of the OAU can be channeled to meet the high hope and expectation that the African Union can achieve the Pan-Africanist dream of true political, socioeconomic Integration of the continent and assure the well-being of its people.
Issues and Reasons for Regional Integrations
Regional integration is not a new idea or initiative in Africa. Along with the creation of African common market it has been fueling division of African leaders for the past 45 decade. In fact, the creation of the 0rganisation of African Unity (OAU) in 1964 reflected the awareness, by the leaders of the day that Africans strength was rooted in Pan-Africa cooperation.1 The Southern Rhodesia Custom Union was established in 1949 and the East African community in 1967(Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania). 2 So far, United Africa has a long history and is the unique product of social and cultural attitude of Africa, today, the African Union (AU) is an entity that continues to work for the integration in the continent to enable it plays its rightful role in the global economy while addressing multi-faceted socio-economic and political problem. The advent of the Organization now known (AU) is described as an advent of great magnitude in the institutional evolution of the continent.3
In a 1959, speech from Kwame Nkrumah, Ideological father of the African Union. He stated that in Ghana, we regard our independence as meaningless unless we are able to use the freedom that goes with it to help other African people to be free and independent, to liberate the entire continent of Africa from foreign dehumanization and ultimately to establish a union of African state. 4”Of all sins Africa can commit, the sins of despair will be most unforgivable……..unity will not make us rich, but it can make it difficult for –Africa and the African people to be disregarded and humiliated——My generation led Africa to political freedom. The current generation of leadership and people of Africa must pick up the flickering touch of African freedom to refuel it with their enthusiasm and determination, and carry it forward” 5 (President Nyerere, former President of Tanzania at the 40th anniversary of Ghana’s independent,1997)
The historical foundations of African Union originated in the union of African States. The Organization of African Unity (OAU) was established on May 25th 1963. 6 It remained the collective voice for the continent until 2002.The intended purpose of the OAU was to promote the unity and solidarity of the African States in a time of independent movements. The OAU also aimed to ensure that all African States enjoy human right, raise the living standard of all Africans and settle arguments and dispute between member states. 7
In the charter of the Organization of African Unity adopted in 1963 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, African States became committed to work together to coordinate and intensify their cooperation and effort to achieve a better life for the people of Africa. The OAU Struggle to enforce its decision and its lack of an army made it difficult to intervene in civil wars and countries struggling with colonialism. The policy of non-interference in the affairs of member states also restricted the OAU in achieving its goals. Consensus was difficult to achieve within the organization. The French colonies, the Pro-capitalist and the Pro-socialist faction during the cold war, all had their agenda and made it very difficult to reach an agreement on what had to be done. Through the difficulties and struggles the OAU endured, it still provides a forum that enabled member states to adopt coordinated positions on the matter of common concern. For example, through the OAU coordinating committee for the liberation of Africa, the organization worked and succeeded in forging a consensus in support of liberation struggle and the fight against apartheid. 8
1.2 Aims and Objectives
The African Union was formed to cater for the needs and aspiration of member states amongst the various set objectives
*Achieve greater unity and solidarity between the African countries and the other people of Africa
*Defend the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of its member states
*Accelerate the political and socio- economic integration of the continent
*Promote and defend African common position on issues of interest to the continent and its people
*Encourage international cooperation, taking due account of the charter of the United Nation and the check of human rights.
*Work with relevant international partners in the eradication of preventable diseases and the promotion of good health on the continent
*To promote democratic principle and institutional popular participation and good governance and also protect human and people’s right in accordance with African charter on human and people right and other relevant human rights instrument.
*Establish the necessary conditions which enable the continent to play its rightful role in the global economy and international negotiations.
*Promote sustainable development at the economic, social and cultural level as well as the integration of African economies
*Promote cooperation in all fields of human activity to raise the living standard of African people
*Promote peace, security, and stability on the continent. 9
The wish of the founders of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) was largely informed by the desire of Pan-Africanist who believed that it is the only full political unity that will end the Pan-African struggle. Apart from the of lack of a common culture and language that divides African states there is more fundamental problem of lack of effective leadership in the search for unity.
1.3 Significance of the Study
This research is very significant in the sense that it sought to look at the peaceful transformation of the African Union from the Organization of African Unity. The role of the Organization of African Unity in the socio-economic, political and cultural well being of the African cannot be over emphasizes, so therefore, any study that will encompass the organization of African Unity and her transformation to this modern union in a shrinking globalized world where all political and frontier barriers are being broken down is very significant, because it will shed more light on the polemics of this union
1.4 Scope of Study
This research work shall essentially be limited to the Organization of African Unity (OAU), her aim and objective and factors that precipitated to her transformation from Organization of African Unity (OAU) to African Union (AU) it shall therefore pre-suppose that this study shall cover the period of 2003 when the original idea of African Union was limited
1.5 Problems of the Study
The problem this researcher encountered were basically was that of the refusal of most competent scholars to discuss at length with the researcher. Alongside this was also time constraints because this research work is being embarked upon in conjunction with other academic work, and also the researcher was faced the problems of funds because among areas visited was the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, V.I. Lagos, the Ministry of Foreign affairs, Abuja, ECOWAS secretariat, Abuja and the A.U, Office also in Abuja. Be that it may be, the challenges were quite interesting and the researcher believes that they were worth the while.
This research shall adopt a two way analysis. It shall be using the primary and the secondary source of data collections and analysis. The primary source shall rely heavily on materials of people in the diplomatic spheres and scholars in foreign policy, while secondary source shall rely heavily on journals, books, magazines, published work and other media materials of day to day research.
1.7 Literature Review
Books are the major important tool in any research work; it is therefore interactive that literature pertaining the work shall be consulted. Conflict expert agree that to completely resolve a conflict, its root cause have to be removed first. It was in this regard that the African Union Partner with the United Nations (UN), having recognized the link between war and poverty. As Africa has started going into close cooperation with regional Organization of African Unity (OAU), now the African Union (AU).A Nigerian diplomat to the African Union, Shinkaiye in his book “Nigeria and the African Union, Role and Expectations in which the situations that transpire before it was changed from Organization of African Unity (OAU) to African Union (AU) discussed extensively the entire process of the transformation. 10
Akinsanya 11 this book laid more emphasis on the importance of transforming from Organization of African Unity to African Union In the year 2002.Another scholar Oyobaira in a book written by him “Political Stability and African Union ”. 12 In another book, Nigeria, the AU and the Challenge of Regional Integration by a renowned senior researcher, Oche in the division of International law also contributed to the study of the transformation of Organization of African Unity (OAU) to African Union (AU).13
The contribution of Olokun, an economist cannot be overlooked in the quest of the Journey so far of the Organization of African Unity to African Union, his contribution through a material.”The role of Nigeria in the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) the material gives us an opportunity to
- Revisit AU/NEPAD perspective for effective knowledge.
- Take another look at the status of the integration in Africa in terms of progress so far.
- Present some key challenges faced and explore possible solutions.
- Impact of relationship between the Europe and Africa Regional Organization on rural livelihood on the continent.
- A call to Europe to write towards effective partnership with African especially its regional bodies.14
Another review to be considered here is the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in its two reports on assessing Regional Integration in Africa (ARIA 1&2) issued in 2004 and 2006 15 respectively, provide a deep analysis as well as a detailed picture of what constitutes the current situation of regional integration in Africa.
Kusa is a political scientist who, in her book “Nigeria and the Challenges of the Africa Peer Review Mechanism(APRM) 16 also talks about the importance of (NEPAD) in the growing of the African Union(AU) and the mechanism for review which provide the means of monitoring progress toward good economic, cooperate and political government in Africa including challenges.
Summary and Conclusion
From the above analysis, there is no disputing the fact that Nigeria is unreservedly committed to the development of Africa. Nigeria’s commitment has been expressed in various forms: provision of technical assistance; grant of concessionary oil prices to African State; the ECOWAS, not just by promptly paying Nigeria’s assessed dues and assuming responsibility for about one-third of the ECOWAS budget, but, at times, also accepting to pay the salaries of the ECOWAS staff; granting soft loans to needy African States; active engagement in conflict resolution and peace-building in Africa; ensuring that all Nigerian diplomats accredited to the AU actively participate in the activities and development of the AU; proactive assistance in the elaboration and codification of AU principles, rules of procedure and acts; popularizing the AU aim high support for conferences and workshops on AU activities; and perhaps more importantly, through the personal involvement of Nigerian leaders, especially, President Olusegun Obasanjo.
As much as Nigeria’s unwavering commitment is noteworthy and commendable, it may not be sufficient in the long run if other countries do not also show the same commitment. Besides, it may be difficult to fast track the development of the Union for a number of obvious factors.
First, Africans and the academic communities, in particular, hardly pay close attention to OAU and AU agreements that are in force. For instance, what is the conceptual definition of a region, and a sub-region in the context of the OAU and the AU? As clearly provided in Article 1(d) and 1(e) of the 1991, Abuja Treaty Establishing The African Economic Community, there are five regions in Africa: West, North, East, Central and Southern, as distinct from the UN definition which sees the whole of Africa as a region. The AEC Treaty also provides that a sub-region is constituted in any of the regions when there is an association of, at least, two countries in each of the five regions of Africa. A sub-region can also be constituted by more than one region. For instance, Nigeria and her immediate neighbours naturally constitute a sub-region, membership of which is drawn from the West and Central African regions.
The problem in this regard is that, even though the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community is a major component and instrument of the AU and has even entered into force, virtually everyone still refers to the five different regions as a sub-region. Rather than promote the African conception of a region, confusion is created when some government and scholars refer to them as sub-regions and some others call them regions. There is the need for the AU to be consistent and for scholars, as well as media practitioners to educate the general public on this development.
Secondly, there is the problem of non-sustaining membership of the Union. Some countries adopt the policy of ‘open chair’. Some African leaders, for various reasons, do not attend regularly OAU/AU Summits but are delighted to attend when the sharing of cake and positions are to be discussed. In fact, some countries do not settle their assessed dues to the AU but want to host AU meetings. This is unnecessarily taking other committed members for granted. It is also a contradiction that is not helpful to ‘fast tracking’ of the AU. The Union should be taken more seriously and should be a Union of sustaining members.
Thirdly, there is a related problem of funding and donor dependency at the African and extra-African levels. At the African level, the Chairman of the AU Commission, Professor Alphar Oumar Konare, has come up with a new vision and mission, meant to put the Union at a greater pedestal but which also implied increased funding. The issue of how to pay, in terms of principles of financial burden sharing, is now raised. What percentage of the GDP should be allocated for the purposes of the AU? Some countries want the UN approach of ‘weighted’ and ‘capacity to pay’ principles. Some countries raised the burden of their domestic problems and have even asked that their arrearages be written off. Some countries even rightly requested for the application of the principle of sovereign equality.
The truth is that, when it comes to payments, the issue of insolvency and incapacity to pay as a result of domestic problems is often raised. When it comes to the issue of sharing office positions, the principle of sovereign equality is not raised. A Union like the AU, cannot survive on the basis of a deliberate policy of double standard. All countries have teething problems. Payment of assessed dues to any supranational Union or organisation must be a deliberate choice and of priority. It is necessary for all AU member States to define when the rule of sovereign equality applies and when it does not. It is also not in the interest of the AU in the long run, to allow non-paying members to participate in the activities of the Union.
Fourthly, the African Union, as it is today, still largely remains a government-to-government business. The majorities of the African people are still alienated and are completely ignorant about the essence of the Union and the roles expected of them. In fact, as provided in Article 17(1) of the Constitutive Act of the AU, “in order to ensure the full participation of African peoples in the development and economic integration of the continent, a Pan-African Parliament shall be established.” Thus, the parliament is designed to be a catalyst in the development processes.
When will the Parliament of representatives elected on the basis of universal suffrage actually take off? To what extent are the people of Africa educated on this? Are there political parties with transnational character in Africa? Although Article 17(2) provides that the composition of the Parliament will be defined in an additional Protocol to the Constitutive Act, are African politicians and people bearing their minds on this?
The African people need to be more educated on this. The AU needs to be more popularized and better understood. Consequently, there has to be a general public enlightenment, introduction of African Union Studies in all secondary schools in Africa, as well as, organization of regular conferences and seminars on every development initiative of the AU. These conferences are to be organised in member States by the various academic communities.
The African Union should a priori be built on the basis of a bottom-up approach and not top-bottom. It is by so doing that the people of Africa can play active parts in the development of the Union and the continent. The AU will then be owned by the people and the people will have a legitimate basis to support the AU Assembly in all its undertakings.
Before concluding, it was shown in the above analyses that Nigeria’s commitment to the development of Africa is as a result of a deliberate choice that it is altruistic in objective, that it is a burden for all Nigerians by implication and choice that this is done in the long term interest of the African Union by design. As also indicated above, Nigeria’s Human Developing Index (HDI) was poor by the time the country was showing concerns for other African countries. In fact, Nigeria’s HDI ranking in 2003 was 152nd position out of 175 countries ranked in the world. Smaller countries like the Cape Verde, Sao Tome and Principe, etc. which Nigeria decided to assist, are in better positions. Nigeria’s decision to help develop Africa, using her human and material resources cannot therefore be as a result of Nigeria’s riches or socio-economic and political contradictions but a resultant factor of a deliberate policy of African solidarity, good neighborliness and altruism.
In conclusion, in the pursuit of AU goals and objectives, cooperation and solidarity should not be unidirectional or based on ‘give and take’ only. It must also be based on ‘take and give’. This is the correct interpretation of the meaning of cooperation. Every Member State of the AU should pay its assessed due as at when due and should be promptly sanctioned when such payments are delayed.
Nigeria’s commitment to the AU is unwavering but it has to be also unreservedly complemented by other countries if the AU is to be put on a fast track of development. Nigeria’s foreign policy has also played a central role in Africa’s respective efforts at regional integration and the formation of the AU largely on the basis of her commitment and support for multilateralism and collective self-reliance among African states. Having gone through the objectives, structure and constitutional provisions of the African Union, it is clear without any doubt that the new-organization displays greater structural differentiation and focus, especially with respect to development issues, than the OAU.
The AU is still officially in a state of institutional development, yet the expectations are high and the challenges of integration and development that it faces are indeed daunting. These challenges, which are adequately captured in the objectives of the A U as stated in its Constitutive Act, are numerous; indeed more than what has been discussed, and touch upon the very crux of the development process.
In assessing the ability of the AU to face these challenges, the reiteration of a familiar truism has to be made. This is to the effect that the strength and institutional viability of international organizations are reflections of the collective strength of their member states. African states are, generally speaking, weak states; indeed, the weakest grouping of states in the international state system. In this respect Nigeria’s continued support for the AU, its principles and developmental pursuits remain critical for African regional integration.
In realistic terms, therefore, the ability of the AU to face Africa’s integration and development challenges will first of all hinge upon the willingness of African states to empower it with the kind of supranational authority which its Constitutive Act prescribes. This will have to be coupled with the much needed financial wherewithal that will give it the necessary credibility and effectiveness to pursue its stated objectives. If in the short to medium term, African states have the ability to develop and strengthen the institutional capacity of the AU, the organization should thereafter lay emphasis upon self-reliance and endogenous efforts as paths to lasting development. In this respect, continental hegemons like Nigeria have very critical roles to play.
To all intents and purposes, the Constitutive Act of the African Union, when compared with the Charter of the OAU, can be regarded as a more progressive political and legal document in pursuing and meeting the challenges of greater unity and solidarity, democracy, good governance and respect for human rights, conflict management and resolution and socio-economic development in Africa. This is provided that a pro-active and dynamic position is taken in the interpretation and application of the provisions of the Act as they relate to the problem of limited governance, policy design, monitoring and implementation, conflict management and peace building, which are at the core of securing political stability in Africa and socio-economic development and human security for its peoples.
Nevertheless, pursuing and realizing the principles and objectives of the African Union can only be assured in conditions of peace and security and in an environment where democratic principles, human rights and the rule of law are respected. Unfortunately, there are not enough pointers in the provisions of the Constitutive Act to conclude that African leaders can summon the required political will to move away from the emphasis in the OAU Charter on national sovereignty and independence towards collective continental responsibility and building a supranational organisation envisaged in the AU Constitutive Act. For example, while Article 4g of the Act confirms the OAU diktat of non¬interference in the internal affairs of member states, Article 4(h) and 4(j) permits such intervention under grave circumstances on the recommendation of the Peace and Security Council and pursuant to a decision of the Assembly.
Yet, decisions in both organs are to be taken by consensus or, failing by two-thirds majority on the basis of sovereign equality of member states and irrespective of political and economic clout and population of each member state. This immediately creates a situation of tyranny of the majority in terms of number and potential inability to implement resolutions aimed at resolving particular political, economic and social problems in which a collective number of states are interested parties. It is also instructive to note that such provisions as, putting an end to the scourge of conflict and their devastating consequences, respect for individual right and collective freedom, holding of regular free elections, tolerance, mutual understanding and respect for minority rights, accountability and transparency in governance and combating corruption are conspicuously absent in the Act (Melber, 2001).
It will also be interesting to see how the Assembly will apply the provisions of Article 23 relating to sanctioning defaulters to the budget. If there was anything that greatly incapacitated the ability of the OAU to function optimally, it was lack of adequate financial resources. Most times, less than 40% of the member states pay their annual assessed contributions to the regular budget either in full or in part. As a result, not only is the OAU Secretariat exposed to financial risk and ridicule and the operation of the Organisation’s specialised commissions mostly grounded (Legum, 1974), the Organisation itself was sometimes made to rely heavily on external funding with the immediate dangers of the possibility of external direction and even control in executing its activities. As rightly observed by Djinnit Said (2002), an Organisation can only achieve its goals if it is provided with requisite human and financial resources. It is therefore imperative for member states of the AU to ensure that the highest caliber of personnel is made available to work in the Commission and to mobilize and provide prompt and adequate financial resources to the Union so that it can be viable and credible.
A report of the New York based International Peace Academy (IPA, 1980) called for the transformation of the OAU “from a sporadic club of Presidents, operating by consensus, into an Organisation which would really have clout, backed by an effective administrative apparatus and Secretariat”. The challenge before Africa and its peoples is to ensure that the transformation of the UAU into the AU meets this hope and aspiration. It is then and Hilly then that the criticism, disillusionment, bitterness and anger of the seeming impotence of the OAU can be channeled to meet the high hope and expectation that the African Union can achieve the Pan-Africanist dream of true political and socio-economic Integration of the continent and assure the well-being of its people.
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