“I will hand over a stronger Commonwealth to an African, says Secretary-General

Mrs Patricia Scotland, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth has promised to hand over “a stronger, more effective, more powerful’’ Commonwealth to an African.

The office of the Commonwealth secretary-general rotates to Africa in two years from now.

The Dominican-born made the promise on Friday in Kigali at the opening of the 26th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).

“I am determined that when the role of Secretary-General rotates to Africa two years from now, I will hand on the baton with a stronger, more effective, more powerful Commonwealth than ever before.

“It is a great honour and privilege of my life to have served in that capacity in the past six years,’’ she said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Heads of State and Governments of Commonwealth countries meeting in Kigali are expected to decide on the next substantive secretary-general on Friday.

According to some diplomats, the incumbent faces opposition from Jamaica’s Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister, Kamina Johnson, who has already been endorsed by two influential members of the bloc, the United Kingdom and India.

Should Johnson win, that might jeopardise Africa’s opportunity to head the Commonwealth Secretariat in 2024.

The decision is usually made by consensus and should the leaders decide not to reappoint the incumbent, voting will take place.

Giving an overview of her stewardship in the past six years, Scotland said: “together, we have been friends in good times and in bad times.

“We have been the voice for the voiceless, advocates for development and progress. We have laid the foundation for transformational change.

“I have an unshakeable belief that we can take Commonwealth to new heights, to hold our values ever-closer and set examples for the whole world.’’

The secretary-general, who has served her first term of six years instead of four years because of the outbreak of COVID-19, recounted that the period since the gathering in 2018 had been marked with sorrow.

She called for a minute’s silence in honour of “more than one million of our brothers and sisters across the Commonwealth – from all walks of life, including Heads of Government’’ who died of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, in an interview with newsmen, expressed satisfaction with the leadership style and performance of the Caribbean incumbent.

CHOGM was postponed twice since its last session in 2018 because of COVID-19. (NAN)