Tinubu Canvasses Good Governance to Counter Coups in West Africa 

* Stresses need to re-engage nations under military rule to fast-track return to democratic rule

* Reiterates body’s zero tolerance for unconstitutional change of govt

* Hails President Weah for conceding defeat during recent Liberian poll

Deji Elumoye in Abuja 

President Bola Tinubu has charged West African leaders to prioritize good governance and collective prosperity as an essential tool to prevent authoritarian takeover of power and unconstitutional changes of government in the region.

Addressing the 64th ordinary session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government at the Conference Hall of the State House in Abuja on Sunday, the president, who is the Chairman of ECOWAS,

identified good governance as a key catalyst to secure popular support through the socio-economic transformation and development of West Africa.

According to him, “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.”

Recalling 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, President Tinubu said the bloc has outlined specific measures to be taken against any member state opting for unconstitutional change of government. 

 He said: “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.”

The president also used the forum 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 while 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. 

He stressed that: “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.”

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.

His words: “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.”

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