The African Union is meeting in Abuja. Your moderator will bring you news and analysis as they come:


Daily Independent Online.
 Sunday, January 30, 2005

By Tony Eluemunor, Chesa Chesa, Onyekachi Eze
 President Olusegun Obasanjo has directed the Peugeot Automobile of Nigeria Limited (PAN) to supply 160 units of Peugeot vehicles including 607 - series limousines to be used by African Heads of State who are in Abuja for the mid-term Assembly of the African Union.
 The directive followed Obasanjo's approval of PAN vehicles as the official carriers of Heads of State and dignitaries attending the Abuja summit, which ends tomorrow. Chairman of PAN, Dr. Aliyu Modibbo Umar, disclosed that his company got the approval on the strength of strong recommendation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as the President's satisfaction with PAN's pioneering role in export of made-in-Nigeria Peugeot vehicles.

 In a letter dated 28th January, 2005, the President commended PAN for also giving timely logistic support to organisers of the AU meeting and subsequently directed that the Peugeot 607 limousines be used to exclusively chauffeur the visiting heads of states and governments.

 He also commended the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for giving priority to indigenous manufacturers of automobiles like PAN, and tasked it to strengthen its relationship with PAN.

 Modibbo disclosed further that PAN has fetched for the federal government about 2 million Euros made from the export of 200 made-in-Nigeria Peugeot vehicles, the first of such export recorded in the automobile history of the country.

 According to a statement by Tunde Martins, Special Assistant to Modibbo, "President Obasanjo's endorsement of Peugeot as the official vehicle to chauffeur African leaders during the AU Summit, is coming against the backdrop of the policy of the federal government to patronise local manufacturers of automobile rather than the completely built-up importers.

 "Also, the President's choice of PAN as the official carrier for AU Summit is an attempt to popularise made-in-Nigeria Peugeot vehicles among the visiting African leaders.

 "The PAN export was the first time Nigeria will be exporting vehicles manufactured in the country, thus giving Nigeria an opportunity to join the league of automobile exporting countries."

 As at yesterday, the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Koffi Annan and about 40 African presidents were already in Abuja for the Mid-Term Assembly of the African Union (AU), which opened yesterday's morning in Abuja, Nigeria's federal capital.

 First to arrive was President Mamadou Tandja of Niger on Friday for one-day familiarization visit to the ECOWAS Secretariat in his capacity as the newly elected Chairman of ECOWAS.

 Annan, who flew in on Saturday was expected to use the opportunity of the Assembly to canvass for Africa's support, especially in the face of United States orchestrated campaign of calumny against him.

 The Assembly is also expected to ratify some of the recommendations made to it be the Executive Council, which ended its 6th session on Friday.

 The council, in a reciprocal gesture for aid support to the continent by donor countries recommended that they be granted observer status on the condition that they would not attend AU close sessions.

 In this regard, the council recommended that the number of issues to be discussed at close sessions be scaled down. Also to enjoy the observer status is the European Union (EU) which last year extended such gesture to the African Union.

 AU spokesperson, Mr. Desmond Orjiakor disclosed that the council looked the funding of the Union and decided to recommend to heads of state and government scale of assignment for member countries. Other sources of funding for the Union was also looked into which saw them making provision that 0.5 per cent of the entire budget should come from tax on Air travel in Africa, custom duties among others