CEO Powers & Millions Raila Will Earn Should He Be Elected AU Chairperson

The Chairperson of the Commission is elected by the Assembly for a four-year term, renewable once.

CEO Powers & Millions Raila Will Earn Should He Be Elected AU Chairperson
Raila Odinga speaking to the press on February 15, 2024. /ODM

Former Prime Minister, Raila Odinga is poised to wield insurmountable power in the African continent should his bid for the African Union Commission (AUC) Chairperson succeed.

Often confused with the African Union chairperson (an annual, ceremonial rotational post between heads of state and governments), the Chairperson of the African Union Commission is the Chief Executive Officer, legal representative of the AU and the Commission’s Chief Accounting Officer.

The Chairperson of the Commission is elected by the Assembly for a four-year term, renewable once. Under the old Organisation of African Unity (OAU), this position used to be called secretary-general, even though it had weaker powers then.

Since 2002 when the African Union inherited, and appended the roles of the OAU, there have been more instances of the Commission chairperson speaking, condemning, criticising or praising.

Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo (right) endorsing Azimio Leader Raila Odinga for AU Chairmanship on February 15, 2023. /ODM

He or she who holds that position has the following functions:

  1. Overall responsibility for the Commission’s administration and finances
  2. Promoting and popularising the AU’s objectives and enhancing its performance
  3. Consulting and coordinating with key stakeholders like Member States, Development Partners, RECs, etc
  4. Appointing and managing Commission staff
  5. Acting as a depository for all AU and OAU treaties and legal instruments.

The other duties are preparing the annual report on the AU and its organs’ activities, and submitting reports requested by the Assembly, Executive Council, Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC), committees and any other organs.

As this is a full-time diplomatic role, it comes with a plush basic monthly salary of $15,576.75, which is Ksh2.3 million at current exchange rates.

The chairperson is also entitled to a Ksh36,375 ($250) monthly allowance per eligible child as well as a 100 per cent school fee payment for every eligible child of the official in Africa.

He or she is also entitled to Ksh2.2 million ($15,000) per year if the station is in Europe or North America and Ksh873,000 ($6,000) in the rental budget which includes rent and payment for utilities such as electricity.

In Raila's case, should he get elected, his wife, Ida, will also get a monthly facilitation.

"Retention of the Spouse Allowance of 5 per cent of Basic Salary, on the condition that eligible spouse is not receiving remuneration exceeding USD500 (Ksh77,750) per month," read the remuneration guidelines in part.

A chairperson's speeches, though, must be tailored and actions measured in every step he or she takes.

Since 2002, there have been five Commission chairpersons. Moussa Faki Mahamat is the first to hold the position for two consecutive terms since 2017, and his current term ends this year.

Previous chairpersons are; South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma (2012–17), Jean Ping of Gabon (2008–12) and Alpha Oumar Konaré of Mali (2003–08). Amara Essy of Côte d’Ivoire led the transition team between AOU and AU 2002–03. All these were younger than 70 when they took office.

Commission chairpersons are elected by secret ballot as opposed to the Assembly chairperson often chosen by consensus.

The Commission chairperson must garner a two-thirds majority of the present voting members. Currently, Sudan, Mali, Niger, Guinea and Burkina Faso are suspended for committing coups.

Since 2021, the AU expanded its Commission to include eight members; the chairperson, deputy chairperson and six commissioners.

Candidates for the office of the chairperson and his/her deputy are often circulated to Member States at least three months before the election.

African Union Commission (AUC) Chairperson Moussa Faki. /THE GUARDIAN NIGERIA