10th July, 2023
Nigeria’s President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on Sunday lamented setbacks to democracy in the West African sub-region with military take over of government in some of the countries.
Tinubu spoke after he was unanimously elected as chairman of the 16-nation Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) at the 63rd Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of States/Governments of the sub-region.
Tinubu who was attending the Summit, his first as Nigerian leader cited Mali, Burkina Faso and the Republic of Guinea as countries where the constitutional order had been distorted.
He however commended Nigeria and Sierra Leone for sustaining constitutional order through the democratic process with successful elections, according to a statement released by Tinubu’s spokesman, Mr Dele Alake.
The Nigerian leader warned that the emerging pattern of military takeover now demand urgent and concerted actions as he noted 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 the 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,” he said.
He appreciated the Authority of Heads of State and citizens of the Community for trusting him to lead the West African body.
President Tinubu said: “Your Excellencies, let me conclude by once again deeply appreciating the Authority of Heads of State and the citizens of the Community for your trust in me. Together, we can shape a brighter future of shared values of peace, democracy, and economic prosperity in our region.”