Tinubu Requires More Time to Perform, Gowon Pleads with Angry Nigerians

Tinubu Requires More Time to Perform, Gowon Pleads with Angry Nigerians

•Wants ECOWAS to lift sanctions on Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, withdrawal of exit notice

Deji Elumoye and Michael Olugbode in Abuja  

Former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, has appealed to Nigerians to give President Bola Tinubu more time to deliver dividends of democracy to the citizenry.

Gowon, who spoke with newsmen yesterday after meeting with Tinubu at State House, Abuja, said the relatively new government at the centre was doing its best to solve the country’s problems.

The meeting between the former head of state and the president was the first since Tinubu assumed office nine months, on May 29, 2023.

Gowon advised Tinubu not to be discouraged by the criticisms of his government.

He said he was also criticised over the Nigerian Civil war, when he was Head of State in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Gowon stated, “I was telling the president that no Nigerian leader that can get there and will not have all the report of what is being said about him.

“But certainly, there’s no doubt, from what one hears and what one sees on the various media etc., I think the government is trying their best to deal with the various problems of the country. Don’t worry, you will get criticised but people who get there know better than you know.

“I think all what one can say is that Nigerians, we’ve got to give the president time to get things really done. And it is too early to sort of say absolute result, perfect result will be achieved now. That is my opinion.

“I know and if I can remember, when I was fighting the war, I was told I was too slow and that probably Nigeria cannot make it and that we should now seek for discussion. Well, did we do it or not? They probably do not know the problem underground so that is where we are.”

The former head of state also disclosed that he discussed the current challenges facing the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) with Tinubu and the need to resolve them.

He debunked insinuation in some quarters that he sabotaged the recent ECOWAS meeting, and said the meeting was scheduled to hold later.

According to him, “I came to discuss various matters, especially the issue of the ECOWAS problem at the moment, which I think needs to be resolved.

“And being the surviving leader, or founding father of ECOWAS, I think we had to discuss some of his plans in order to see what can be done to bring the matter under control.

“So, this is what has brought me here and we had a very interesting meeting and I’m sure some of you have read report that I refused to attend ECOWAS conference, isn’t it? Is it you that did that report?

“Who did that? You know trying to give that impression that it was me who was probably trying to sort of sabotage ECOWAS. No, that is not the case.

“I think there was a miscommunication but then it gave the opportunity for Mr President to call me so that we can discuss what I was to do. So that ECOWAS meeting was part of the discussion we had today.

“So that has been done and solved and I hope that we can probably be able to have that message done later on today (yesterday, Wednesday) at ECOWAS headquarters probably by 5pm. They will let you know.”

However, in a letter presented to President of ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Omar Alieu Touray, at the ECOWAS headquarters in Abuja, Gowon called on Heads of State and government of ECOWAS to immediately withdraw the sanctions placed on aggrieved member states who withdrew their membership of the sub-regional economic bloc.

He pleaded with the top echelon of ECOWAS and the three aggrieved countries – Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger Republic – to put aside their differences for the sake of peace, unity and prosperity of the region.

He equally urged the three countries to withdrawal their notice to leave the community.

Gowon called for dialogue among heads of state of ECOWAS to include the three aggrieved countries, so that they can fashion out a way out. He said that was imperative for unity and stability of the region, in line with the dreams of the founding fathers.

Gowon, who expressed his sadness over developments in the sub-region, also said he was prepared to engage with leaders of member states to ensure that the countries rescind their decisions.

He stated, “I have noted with deep concern and sadness, the past and recent developments unfolding in the West African sub-region, particularly the pronouncement by Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger of their intention to exit from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

“As one of the founders of our regional economic community, it is incumbent upon me to speak on behalf of the 14 Heads of State and Government, who joined me in Lagos, on 27th May 1975, to establish ECOWAS.

“Since its inception, the regional bloc has made a number of major accomplishments, including trade liberalisation, right of West Africans to live legitimately in any country within the Community, as well as successful peacekeeping operations in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

“ECOWAS, despite its shortcomings, has become an example of regional integration for the wider continent. Having achieved all of the above, it saddens me to learn that ECOWAS is threatened with disunity following the announcement by Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, three important member states, of their intention to leave the community.

“The impact of such a decision will have far-reaching implications for the ordinary citizens, who have been the major beneficiaries of regional integration.

“Therefore, on behalf of all the founding fathers of the community and myself, I urge the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, including the leaders of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, to put aside their differences and reunite for the peace, stability and prosperity of our sub-region.

“I call on all West African leaders to immediately consider the implementation of the following: lifting of all sanctions that have been imposed on Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali and Niger;

“Withdrawal by Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger of their notices to leave ECOWAS; and participation of all 15 ECOWAS Heads of State in a summit to discuss the future of the community, regional security and stability, as well as the role of the international community given the current geopolitical context.

“I wish to once more reiterate to regional leaders that ECOWAS is more than a coalition of states, it is a community established for the good of our peoples, based on shared history, culture and tradition. Neither my generation, nor present or future generations will understand or forgive the breakup of our community.

“I thank you all for giving due consideration to this appeal, which has been made with sincerity and a deep sense of moral responsibility. I urge all other elders in the sub-region to join me in this campaign to immediately restore unity and shared purpose within ECOWAS.

“Let me assure all parties that I am ready for further engagements to ensure that our community remains united.”

Touray promised to deliver the letter to the Council of Heads of State, saying he believes that top consideration would be given to it during their emergency on Saturday, this week.

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