Tinubu re-elected ECOWAS chairman for second term

President Bola Tinubu has been re-elected as chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Authority of Heads of State and Government for another one-year term.

He was reelected at the 65th Ordinary Session of the Authority held at the State House Conference Center, Abuja,

In his acceptance speech, President Tinubu acknowledged the challenges facing the region, including coups in Mali, Guinea, and Burkina Faso, as well as the threat of terrorism in the Sahel and vowed to continue working with other ECOWAS leaders to sustain democratic values and structures in the community.

“Thank you very much. There’s no need for long speeches any more now that I’ve accepted to continue in the service with great members and great minds that are committed to democratic value and journey for us in the region. I’ll continue my utmost best to serve our interests and build on the democratic value and the structure that we inherited.”

He also announced the appointment of Senegalese President Bassirou Faye as Special Envoy of the ECOWAS Commission to mediate with the leaders of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger, who had earlier announced their exit the community. Faye will work alongside Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yusuf Tuggar.

Tinubu said: “Having a new mandate, I will request Faye of Senegal to please become our special envoy alongside Tuggur, to do a round-the-clock work with our brothers in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger and coordinate with me, if necessary, and with the commission.”

The re-election of President Tinubu as ECOWAS Chairman comes at a critical time for the regional bloc, as it faces challenges such as political instability, security threats, and economic difficulties. As the leader of Africa’s largest economy, President Tinubu is expected to play a crucial role in addressing these issues and promoting regional integration and development.

During his first term, Tinubu prioritised good governance, democracy, and economic integration as the keys to addressing the root causes of instability in West Africa. He advocated for a collective approach to tackling the region’s security threats, including the jihadist insurgency in the Sahel.

Under Tinubu’s first tenure, ECOWAS imposed tough sanctions on the junta-led states, leading them to withdraw from the regional organization and form a rival alliance, the Alliance of Sahel States (ASS).

On the choice of Faye, President of the ECOWAS Commission, Omar Touray, said: “The Senegalese president indicated his acceptance to serve as facilitator for ECOWAS in our engagement with the three ex-countries (Alliance of Sahel States) and this is in the spirit of engagement that our leaders believe should continue, as you rightly said we dont only share borders we share families, we share communities and the leaders are determined to keep our community together, ECOWAS is a community of people that must stay together.”

Touray during the question and answer session said the exiting of ECOWAS by Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger would likely  affect citizens of the countries, and other ECOWAS countries, following the need for visas, and the review of all trade and development agreements, including ongoing ECOWAS projects in those countries.

Speaking at the opening of the session before he was reelected, Tinubu had called on member states to fulfill their financial obligations in a timely manner to ensure effective functioning of the commission and its ability to address the security challenges facing the region.

He urged member-states to leverage the capability of the Nigeria National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC), which is widely acknowledged as one of the best on the continent.

He also solicited the support of ECOWAS member states to retain Nigeria’s position as the Commissioner for Political Affairs and Security at the African Union (AU) Commission.

He reminded the member states that the AU Commission election is scheduled for February 2025 and emphasised that the West African region continues to face significant security challenges, including terrorism, violent extremism, and banditry.

The Nigerian leader underscored the importance of retaining this position, which is currently held by Bankole Adeoye, to address the security challenges facing the West African region.

“Our region currently holds the position of AU Commissioner for Political Affairs and Security, a crucial role for our region. Therefore, I solicit your support for the candidacy of Ambassador Bankole Adeoye, who is seeking re-election as the sole male candidate for this position from our region,” Tinubu stated. 

Declaring the 65th session open at the State House Conference Centre of the State House, Abuja, Tinubu, said the Ordinary Session was convened to review the situation in the West African region.

Tinubu also highlighted the decision of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger to withdraw from ECOWAS, and the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the affected countries. He stressed the importance of a peaceful and secure society for achieving the region’s potential and operationalizing the ECOWAS standby force to combat terrorism.

He said: “Let me underscore that a peaceful and secure society is essential for achieving our potentials, move to operationalise the ECOWAS Standby Force (ESF) in combating terrorism, I must emphasise that the success of this plan requires, not only strong political will, but also substantial financial resources. We must therefore ensure that we meet the expectations and recommendations set forth by our ministers of Defense and Finance in order to counter the insecurity and stabilise our region.

“Member states must make extra commitment on providing resources for stabilising the region. To this end, I urge ECOWAS to leverage on the capability of the Nigeria National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC), which is widely acknowledged as one of the best on the continent.

“The Nigerian government has decided to declare the NCTC as a regional centre to enable all ECOWAS member states to benefit from capacity building and other related opportunities it offers.

“Your excellencies, dear heads of state, I urge those of you with time to visit the centre before your departure and assess first-hand on the facilities and the capabilities of NCTC.

“I’m also fully aware of other challenges confronting our region, especially the economic hurdles that hinder our progress to elevate our people from poverty to prosperity. It is imperative that we unite as a community and develop innovative approaches to unleash our vast economic potentials.

“We must continue to identify and develop partnerships that promote investment in key sectors and promote regional trade. Furthermore we must invest in our infrastructure and cultivate a conducive business environment to empower our community to stimulate growth and build resilience against external shock. Together we can pave the way for a prosperous future for all  ECOWAS countries

“I also acknowledge the financial challenges of our organization. Difficult economic conditions and consistent payment of financial commitment to ECOWAS have contributed to the current plight, to ensure ECOWAS has adequate resources for its programmes and activities, I urge all member states to ensure full compliance to the protocol on the community levy. Nigeria, under my leadership, is committed to leading by example by remitting its collected levies to the organisation

“By the way, we resolved at the caucus meeting that details of outstandings by countries will be distributed from the ECOWAs secretariat.”

In his remarks, Touray, said the elections that have taken place so far this year and the ones that took place last year in Nigeria, Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone and Liberia, showed that despite all odds, democracy is alive in the West African sub-region.

“We look forward to the consolidation of this trend in the region as we prepare for a major election in Ghana later this year.”

Touray added that reminding themselves of the positive development was not in any form an exercise in self glorification, rather a recognition of the progress the community has made.

He, however, said the significance of the events and developments is being overshadowed by the multidimensional challenges that the region faces.

“Our region is still confronted with multiple interlocking threats, including existential works. This includes climatic and man-made crises, leading to terrorism and violent extremism and food insecurity. Livelihoods continued to be threatened by illegal and unsustainable exploitation of our land, forest and marine resources.

“Governance deficit and marginalisation have strained social contracts, engendering bitter rivalries and unhealthy competition. To complicate the situation, our region has become the arena of geo-strategic and geo-political rivalries and the theatre of misinformation and disinformation that engenders mistrust among and within communities and undermines social cohesion,” Touray also said.

On his part, the African Union Commission Chairperson, Moussa Mahamat, expressed the AU’s strong support for ECOWAS and its commitment to strengthening cooperation between the two regional bodies.

In a statement delivered at the 65th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, Mahamat, Represented by AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Bankole Adeoye, commended the “progressive, astute and resourceful leadership” of ECOWAS Chairman and Nigerian President Tinubu in the fight against terrorism, violent extremism, and unconstitutional changes of government.

Mahamat emphasised that regional integration and political stability are “fundamentally intertwined” and “mutually reinforcing” for peace, development and prosperity in West Africa. He highlighted the importance of aligning national, continental and regional priorities, as well as intensifying efforts to combat terrorism, insurgency and cyber-criminality.

The AU Commission Chairperson also called for the consolidation of democratic governance through community-led and owned approaches that involve the inclusive participation of women and youth. He looked forward to celebrating the 50th anniversary of ECOWAS in 2025, describing the regional body as a “pace-setter in peace enforcement” and a “democratic space for constitutional order.”

Mahamat expressed the AU’s full support for the unity of ECOWAS, stating that “with ECOWAS in the forefront, the future of regional political and socio-economic integration and unity is very bright in Africa.”

The post Tinubu re-elected ECOWAS chairman for second term appeared first on The Sun Nigeria.

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