President Bola Tinubu has emerged as the new Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
“We will take democracy seriously, Democracy is very tough but it is the best form of government,” he said upon his emergence on Sunday in Guinea-Bissau.
Tinubu succeeds President Umaro Embalo of Guinea Bissau as ECOWAS chair.
Tinubu’s emergence was announced at the 63rd Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS.
The 63rd Ordinary Session summit was the first engagement of the President within the African continent since he assumed office on May 29, 2023.
Tinubu, the newest member of West Africa’s exclusive club of Heads of State, has committed to shoulder the responsibilities of the position and lead an inclusive administration of the regional organization.
The Nigerian leader, on the other hand, cautioned that terrorism and a developing trend of military takeover had reached dangerous proportions in the sub-region, necessitating urgent and coordinated response.
He said insecurity and creeping terrorism were stunting the progress and development of the region.
Tinubu called for a collective action from member-states, pledging that under his leadership, frameworks would be harmonized to actualise 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,” Tinubu said, according to a statement by his spokesman, Dele Alake.
The President noted that ECOWAS had developed a security architecture, which “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 operationalisation 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 towards the actualisation of the initiatives. As terrorists do not respect boundaries, we must work collectively to have an effective regional counterterrorism measure,” he further stated.
While decrying the emerging pattern of coup d’etat in West Africa where soldiers have truncated the popular mandate, 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.