President Bola Tinubu emerged the new Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) at the 63rd Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government on Sunday in Bissau, Guinea-Bissau.
The Nigerian President, who is the latest entrant into the exclusive club of Heads of State in West Africa, enthusiastically accepted the honour, on behalf of Nigeria, with a solemn pledge to bear the responsibility of the office and run an inclusive administration of the regional organisation.
Tinubu, however, warned that the threat to peace in the sub-region had reached an alarming proportion with terrorism and emerging pattern of military takeover that now demand urgent and concerted actions, a statement by the Presidency spokesman. Dele Alake, said.
According to him, insecurity and creeping terrorism were stunting the progress and development of the region.
President Tinubu, therefore, called for a collective action from member-states, pledging that under his leadership, frameworks would be harmonized to actualize the dreams of ECOWAS.
“On peace and security, the threat has reached an alarming level, and needs urgent actions in addressing the challenges. Indeed, without a peaceful environment, progress and development in the region will continue to remain elusive. In this regard, we must remain committed to the utilisation of all regional frameworks at our disposal to address the menace of insecurity,” he declared.
President Tinubu noted that ECOWAS had developed a security architecture, which he noted, “covers a wide range of areas that involved kinetic and non-kinetic operations, including preventive diplomacy. There is also the Regional Plan of Action on Fight against Terrorism 2020-2024 as well as the operationalization of the ECOWAS Standby Force on Fight Against Terrorism.
“I will ensure that we immediately harmonize these plans and mobilize resources as well as the political will to towards the actualisation of the initiatives. As terrorists do not respect boundaries, we must work collectively to have an effective regional counterterrorism measure,” the President further stated.
On his emergence as Chairman on his first participation at the summit, having just started out as the elected leader of Nigeria, President Tinubu stated that he was humbled and honoured by the trust to assume the leadership of the regional body, pledging his commitment to serve the interest of the community.
He said: “Indeed, I’m humbled and honored by this trust, and want to assure you of my unalloyed commitment to provide the necessary leadership with dedication to serve the interest of the community.”
To underscore his commitment towards regional integration, the Nigerian President declared that he would prioritize political stability, peace and security, regional economic integration and strengthening of the ECOWAS institutions, declaring that democracy and good governance remain the abiding cornerstone of peace and sustainable development. While decrying the emerging pattern of coup d’etat in West Africa where soldiers have toppled the popular mandate of the people through barrel of guns, President Tinubu charged ECOWAS to stand firm in defence of democracy.
“We must stand firm on democracy. There is no governance, freedom and rule of law without Democracy. We will not accept coup after coup in West Africa again. Democracy is very difficult to manage but it is the best form of government.
There is no one here among us who did not campaign to be a leader. We didn’t give our soldiers resources, we didn’t invest in them, in their boots, in their training to violate the freedom of the people. To turn their guns against civil authorities is a violation of the principles upon which they were hired which is to defend the sovereignty of their nations. We must not sit in ECOWAS as toothless bulldogs,” the President warned.
On political stability, he said: “You will all agree with me that democracy and good governance are the cornerstones of peace and sustainable development of every society. I’m fully committed to deepening democracy and good governance in the region.
“We must strengthen our democratic institutions and ensure the respect for human rights and the rule of law. I will enhance engagements with the countries in transition to ensure their quick return to democratic rule.
The new ECOWAS Chairman called for improved private sector participation in the effort towards the economic development of Member States as well as their social integration.
CULLED FROM PEOPLES DAILY