Nigeria yesterday defeated Gambia and Senegal in a keenly contested election for West Africa's slot of the United Nations Security Council.
Nigeria defeated her major contestants, Gambia and Senegal, that had earlier agreed to stand down, with 186 votes to one vote each.
According to policies of the UN General Assembly, Nigeria, among other new entrants, will be serving as a non-permanent member of the Security Council for two years starting from January 1, 2014, till December 31, 2015.
This will make it the fifth time that Nigeria will be representing the West Africa on the UN Security Council. The country was elected to serve on the council in 1966-67, 1978-79, 1994-1995 and 2010-2011.
Nigeria could not secure a return as it had to wait for another two years before being able to re-contest for West Africa's slot.
During its tenure between 2010 and 2011, Nigeria which made remarkable and laudable contributions to the United Nations peacekeeping efforts also contributed positively to the issues regarding the sub-Saharan region.
Nigeria, during this time, also ensured that it extended its full cooperation to the UN combat against terrorism, nuclear arms and light weapons. The voice of the country was also on the top in matters dealing with international peace and security in Syria and the sanctions against Iran and North Korea as well as the U.N.'s far-flung peacekeeping operations. Also elected to represent the African continent on the council was Chad which polled 186 votes, more than the required two-thirds of the total votes cast, to enable it become a non-permanent member of the council in January 2014.
Apart from Nigeria and Chad, Saudi Arabia, Chile and Lithuania were elected by the 193-member UN General Assembly to as well serve a two-year term on the Security Council. All the five countries will replace Azerbaijan, Guatemala, Morocco, Pakistan and Togo whose tenure as non-permanent members of the 15-member Security Council will expire January 1, 2014.
Security Council seats are highly coveted because they give countries a strong voice in matters dealing with international peace and security, such as in Syria, sanctions against Iran and North Korea and the U.N.'s far-flung peacekeeping operations. Under the UN Charter, the 15-member Council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, and all Member States are obligated to comply with its decisions. To win, each country must obtain the support of two-thirds of all General Assembly members present, or a minimum of 129 votes if all 193 members participate, and because balloting is secret, there is intense lobbying for votes by candidates, even in uncontested races, to ensure they get the minimum number needed for victory.
Apart from the 10 non-permanent members, the Security Council also has five permanent members with veto power - the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France.