The interview was edited for brevity and clarity.
VOA: What are your thoughts on the performance of the African Union, 20 years into its formation?
Akinola: I think there has been lack of commitment among the political allies that are mandated to advance Africa’s regional agenda. Among the challenges is the lack of political will by leaders and in many cases, they form the political elite mandated to champion the direction of the African Union, thereby making it difficult for the AU to act accordingly against challenges faced by the continent. There is also this understanding in Africa that sovereignty of AU members must be respected, but several African leaders who are members of the AU are perpetrators of the challenges faced by the continent.
VOA: Let us use the conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region as a case study for conflict happening in Africa. What would you say is the AU’s role in addressing that conflict?
Akinola: The AU has been very passive in addressing this issue. The AU secretariat is less than 1,200 kilometers from the conflict zone. If the AU cannot stop the conflict in Tigray, how can they stop conflict in further places like South Sudan and Somalia.
VOA: There are experts who highly rate the performance of the AU and argue that the regional body is advocating for a united and democratic Africa. What are your thoughts on that perception?
Akinola: We should commend the AU for rolling out stimulating programs such as Agenda 2063, but there is also the argument that the AU might not be able to push their member states to make Agenda 2063 a reality. For an example, if we discuss the promotion of democracy, we must note that elitist democracy is promoted in Africa. How can there be democracy in Africa when there are fellow Africans who are hostile to each other?