President Bola Tinubu, on Sunday, implored West African leaders to prioritize good governance and collective prosperity as an essential tool to prevent authoritarian takeovers of power and unconstitutional changes of government in the region.
The Nigerian leader, who is also the Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, said this at the 64th ordinary session of the West African bloc at the State House, Abuja.
Addressing the high-powered regional gathering, the President identified good governance as a key catalyst to secure popular support through the socio-economic transformation and development of West Africa.
“The delivery of good governance is not just a fundamental commitment; it is also an avenue to address the concerns of our citizens, to improve their quality of life, and create a stable environment conducive to the achievement of 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,” a statement from the Presidency quoted Tinubu to have said.
Recounting 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, the President said the bloc has 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 on the basis of 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.
President 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 at the summit and other participants to give a standing ovation to President Weah. He also acknowledged the presence of former President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria, who in 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, His Excellency 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.
President Tinubu also responded to the recent decision by some ECOWAS-member states, under military rule, to float a so-called ‘Alliance of Sahel States’, describing it as distracting and emphasizing the commitment to pursuing ECOWAS integration.
“The phantom pushback Alliance appears intended to divert our attention from our mutual belief in and commitment to democracy and good governance that will impact the lives of our people.
“We refuse to be distracted from pursuing the collective dreams, aspirations, and the noble path of ECOWAS integration as it is laid out in our institutional and legal frameworks.
“I take this opportunity to also emphasize that despite the numerous challenges faced in our region, ECOWAS has achieved significant milestones for the betterment of our community.
“ECOWAS activities have always been people-oriented, with a future of raising the living standard of our people. We have to do that through a relentless focus on qualitative service delivery and good governance,” he added.
On the recent disturbances in Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau, the ECOWAS Chairman asked fellow leaders to pay attention to protecting democracy, reiterating ECOWAS’ zero tolerance to unconstitutional changes of government.
“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 go down clearly that we support a democratically elected government, not an unconstitutional exercise.
“The re-elected president of Sierra Leone is present here. We are saying 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 stated
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