The Nigerian Ambassador/Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Tijjani Bande, took over from his counterpart for the Republic of Benin, Jean-Claude do Rego, at a ceremony at the African Union Observer Mission in New York.
Mr Bande pledged Nigeria’s commitment to strengthening the African continent.
The Nigerian envoy also said his focus as Chairman of the African Group would be to convey the views of the African Union at the United Nations and globally.
“The focus of the Mission of Nigeria is to help to continue the work of consolidating Africa’s position on a number of common important issues from the point of view of the continent.
“These positions are questions like Security Council reform, positions we take in relation to the Status of Women, and issues relating to Peace and Security around the globe.
“The whole idea is to strengthen the African voice.
“The voices actually are of the African Permanent Representatives but occasionally, collectively, we need to make a statement for the continent and to defend the continent’s interests,” Mr Bande said.
The Ambassador/Permanent Observer of African Union to the United Nations, Fatima Kyari-Mohammed, said the Chairmanship position of the African Group was very important in projecting Africa’s voice at the United Nations.
Ms Kyari-Mohammed said: “The monthly leadership allows us to have somebody that can help us with the coordination of the various priorities for that month.
“This is to ensure that we follow through on the various priorities for us and most importantly, when it comes to projecting our positions at the UN.”
According to her, there are a number of different platforms where Africa needs to speak as a group.
She said the African Mission, through the African Group, ensured that Africa’s positions as a group are integrated to ensure that they are understood by all UN Member States, projected and then followed up.
Earlier, Mr Rego had commended Nigeria for its contributions to Africa’s integration, describing the country as a ‘pride’ of Africa.
The Republic of Benin’s envoy also expressed confidence that the quality of interaction among the Member States of the continent would be enhanced under Nigeria’s leadership.
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