Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu, Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, has implored West African leaders to prioritise good governance and collective prosperity.
“This is an essential tool to prevent authoritarian takeovers of power and unconstitutional changes of government in the region,” Mr Ajuri Ngelale, his media aide, quoted him as saying in an address at the 64th ordinary session of the regional body.
The session is currently ongoing in Abuja.
The President identified good governance as a key catalyst to securing popular support through socio-economic transformation and development.
“The delivery of good governance is not just a fundamental commitment; it is also an avenue to address our citizens’ concerns, improve their quality of life, and create a stable environment conducive to achieving sustainable development.
“By providing good governance that tackles the challenges of poverty, inequality and other concerns of the people, we would have succeeded in addressing some of the root causes of military interventions in civilian processes in our region,” the President said.
On the decisions taken by West African leaders to further strengthen the region’s democratic achievements and uphold the right of the people to elect the leaders of their choice, Tinubu said the bloc had outlined specific measures to be taken against any member state opting for an unconstitutional change of government.
“While the imposition of punitive sanctions may pose challenges, it is important to underscore that the struggle to protect the fundamental liberties of our Community’s citizens must be upheld and respected.
“To this end, I would like to reiterate the imperative of re-engaging with the countries under military rule based on realistic and short transition plans that can deliver democracy and good governance to the innocent populations in those countries.
“On our part, we should be prepared to provide them with technical and material support, to ensure the achievement of these strategic goals,” he said.
Tinubu also used the occasion to applaud President George Weah of Liberia for conceding victory and congratulating his opponent during the last presidential election in Liberia.
He invited leaders and other participants at the summit to give a standing ovation to President Weah.
He also acknowledged the presence of former President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria, who 2015 displayed a similar commitment to democratic ideals after losing his re-election to the opposition candidate, Muhammadu Buhari.
“I would also like to seize this opportunity to extend my heartfelt congratulations to the people of the Republic of Liberia for the successful conduct of the presidential election, widely adjudged to be free, fair and credible.
“Let me also commend my brother and colleague, George Weah, for his exemplary leadership and conduct throughout the electoral process.
“By accepting defeat and congratulating his opponent, President Weah has left a legacy to be emulated by politicians in our region and beyond,” he said.
On the recent disturbances in Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau, the ECOWAS Chairman asked fellow leaders to protect democracy, reiterating ECOWAS’ zero tolerance to unconstitutional government changes.
“I urge all of us to stand strong and be highly committed in the face of any challenge in Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau. The message must clearly show that we support a democratically elected government, not an unconstitutional exercise.
“The re-elected president of Sierra Leone is present here. We are saying it loud and clear that we are with you.
“Without let or hindrance, democracy will win if we fight for it, and we will definitely fight for democracy,” the President declared.
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