Tinubu: Nigeria Open to Talks with Guinea, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger Despite Coups

*Expresses readiness to host African Central Bank

*AU kicks against exorbitant military spending on conflicts, terrorism

Deji Elumoye in Abuja

President Bola Tinubu yesterday declared that Nigeria remains open to dialogue with Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, and Niger Republic, despite recent coups in the four countries and the decision of three of them to withdraw from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Tinubu stressed that the disagreements over the unconstitutional changes of government in the countries should not mean a permanent rupture of the abiding lines of regional affinity and cooperation.

Addressing African leaders yesterday at the 37th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the President said his administration would engage the AU Commission in collaboration with member states to ensure that the African Central Bank takes off as scheduled in 2028.

He also disclosed Nigeria’s readiness to host the bank in line with the vision of the Abuja Treaty.
This is coming as the AU has flayed the menace of conflicts, which have weighed down the continent’s growth with terrorism destroying some of the states and reversing priorities through an increase in exorbitant military spending at the expense of vital social sectors.  
President Tinubu affirmed that Africa’s success in conclusively addressing its challenges hinges on the firmness of its resolution, built on a foundation of deep-rooted solidarity if it is to avoid perpetuating existing problems and creating new ones.

He said: “As a continent and as individual nations, we face strong headwinds and difficult hurdles threatening to complicate our mission to bring qualitative democratic governance and economic development to our people. Many of these obstacles, such as climate change and unfair patterns of global trade, are largely not of our making. However, some of the pitfalls, including coup-birthed autocracies and the deleterious tinkering with constitutional tenure provisions, are developmental cancers we as Africans are giving to ourselves.”

Commenting on the military takeovers in the Republics of Guinea, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger, and the exit of three of these nations from ECOWAS, the President said disagreements over the unconstitutional changes of government should not mean a permanent rupture of the abiding lines of regional affinity and cooperation.

According to him: “The drive for a peaceful, strong, and united West Africa is bigger than any one person or group of people. The bonds of history, culture, commerce, geography, and brotherhood hold deep meaning for our people. Thus, out of the dust and fog of misunderstanding and acrimony, we must seize the chance to create a new people-centric era of trust and accord.

“To all who care to listen, I declare that if you come to the table to discuss important matters in good faith, you will find Nigeria and ECOWAS already sitting there waiting to greet you as the brother that you are.”
On education, which is the theme of this year’s summit, President Tinubu said education is the core ingredient in the process of evolving creative solutions to the unique challenges long confronting the continent.
“In helping to achieve the Agenda 2063 objective of a peaceful, united, and prosperous Africa, I consider African education, not only in the narrow context of the benign use of science and technology to improve the material standards of our people, but also in the nuanced appreciation of the fact that Africa must also become better educated in the humane art of democratic practice, diplomacy, and conflict resolution without violence.
“This year’s theme encourages us to remodel our educational systems to fit these goals. In Nigeria, my administration is devoting ample resources to education at all levels. From redesigning our school feeding programmes and academic curricula to making ourselves an Information and Communication Technology hub, through which we shall bring more youths into the classroom and furnish them with the tools required to flourish in the global economy of the 21st century,” he said.
The president used the forum to extend an invitation to the Africa Counter-Terrorism Summit scheduled to take place in April 2024, in Abuja, stating that the summit aims to expand discussions beyond military and law enforcement remedies to comprehensively tackle the root causes of violent extremism, such as poverty, inadequate political access, and the propagation of hateful ideologies.

 AU Kicks against Exorbitant Military Spending on Conflicts, Terrorism

 Meanwhile, AU has flayed the menace of conflicts, which have weighed down the continent’s growth with terrorism destroying some of the states and reversing priorities through an increase in exorbitant military spending at the expense of vital social sectors.  
Chairperson of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, who spoke yesterday at the opening of the 37th Ordinary session of the body taking place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, also highlighted the absence of peace, political and institutional instability, poverty, climate change, and deficit in economic governance, among others, as sources of concern to the people.  

He lamented that conflict, violence, and the decline of great principles have unfortunately taken over humility, peace, and the nobility of the founding values of human civilization.  
On his part, Nigeria’s Minister of Defence, Mohammed Badaru, has expressed the readiness of the country to leverage the AU summit in Addis Ababa, to consolidate partnerships with its neighbours and member-states to give the citizens a sense of safety on the continent.
Badaru, who spoke to journalists after he arrived at Addis Ababa, the summit venue, said Nigeria was also poised to end the menace of terrorism, and insurgency that has continued to trouble the West African Country.

According to him: “As you are aware, peace and security of the continent is very important at this summit and Nigeria being faced by terrorism and insurgency will really look at possible areas of collaborations with both AU and member-states.
“In particular, we are discussing with many African countries in building our defence industries, so that we can be able to produce high-level defence equipment in Africa, basically in Nigeria also.”

The minister hinted that Nigeria will, during the summit, also bring to the table and see how the AU standby force could be improved.
“It is really very important and we are looking at ways to see how the AU standby force can improve and can be active so that we can together as Africa work towards lasting peace and the agenda of silence in the guns by 2030,” the minister added.

Shedding light on the planned collaboration with neighbouring countries, Badaru said: “As you are aware, we are the main force behind those joint collaborations, and Nigeria has been the biggest force around, and it is doing its best around the area to make sure that we continue with operations.
“You know, we normally have joint operations around Lake Chad to clear it of bandits and that is what is going to happen. We are planning the operations jointly with participating countries. And that will come up, I think, in eight months from now also.

“With the countries that are willing to work with us, soon you will see the clearance of Lake Chad taking place also in collaboration with other countries and will continue to collaborate and we’ll continue to look at our regional interests,” the minister said.
The minister also stressed the need for security agencies in Nigeria to step up and improve intelligence gathering and surveillance to end the prevailing insecurity in the country.

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