General Yakubu Gowon, head of the Republic of Nigeria, was elected chairman of the Organisation of African Unity for the coming year.
GV & SV Delegates including Egypt & Algeria (3 shots)
SCU Tolbert finishes speech
SV Gowon onto podium (applause) as new chairman
CU Gowon speaking
SV Gowon leaves dais & takes chair to applause
"I am indeed most grateful to you for this exceptional honour -- an honour I will accept on behalf of my country, Nigeria, as a challenge: a challenge to follow the noble and exemplary footsteps of my predecessors; a challenge to serve Africa with faith, and without counting the cost; a challenge to safeguard relentlessly the independence, the sovereignty, and territorial integrity of all our states; and a challenge to work for the general progress and peace of Africa and the world.
Without any doubt or hesitation, I count on your most honest prayers and fullest support for the task that lies ahead.
I also owe it as a bounden duty to myself and I believe to you all to express our most grateful thanks to my immediate predecessor -- my immediate predecessors; first of all His Majesty King Hassan II of Morocco, an outstanding African statesman, a man of great wisdom and forbearance.
It is of historic significance that the first decade of our organisation ended under his able and constructive leadership, and I consider it the highest privilege and honour ever done to me that it graciously pleased him to request me to act for him, during the very dignified and memorable celebrations of our tenth anniversary in the last few days.
I said my predecessors: I should like to take this opportunity of thanking President Tolbert of Liberia for ably presiding over the opening of this session -- thank you for proposing me too.
I pledge to perform my duties in the coming year to Africa, faithfully and without fear or favour. Once again I thank you for this very high honour you have done to my country: a country that has infinite confidence and faith in our organisation; a country that has derived so much benefit from your support and trust.
With the help of God Almighty, we shall succeed in our best endeavours. Long Live African Unity; Long Live the Organisation of African Unity. Thank you very much indeed."
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Background: General Yakubu Gowon, head of the Republic of Nigeria, was elected chairman of the Organisation of African Unity for the coming year. His election took place at a private session before the opening on Sunday night (27 May) of the Organisation's tenth session. Voting for this year's chairman was reported earlier to have been deadlocked, between General Gowon, and President Julius Nyerere of Tanzania. President Nyerere withdrew from the lists. In a speech to the session after his election, General Gowon accepted the chairmanship with Gratitude -- and a promise to work to preserve the sovereignty and territorial integrity of every African state. He also paid tribute to his predecessor in office, King Hassan II of Morocco, whom he described as an outstanding African statesman.