After Re-emerging ECOWAS Chair, Tinubu Charges Members to Meet Fiscal Contracts

*Says Nigeria’ll lead by example, fulfil its financial commitments 

*Offers nation’s counter-terrorism centre for use by entire region

*Canvasses unity, innovation to boost regional economy

*Abiodun congratulates president on re-election 

Deji Elumoye, Michael Olugbode in Abuja and James Sowole in Abeokuta

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, yesterday, called on member-states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to fulfil their financial obligations to the organisation to enable it to effectively tackle security challenges in the sub-region. 

Tinubu spoke in Abuja at the 65th Ordinary Session of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government, where he was re-elected Chairman of the community’s supreme institution.

The Nigerian president’s mandate was extended following the decision of the leaders to ensure continuity and consistency in meeting targets on security, reconciliation, and development. 

He was first elected to the position in Guinea-Bissau on July 9, 2023. 

In his acceptance speech, Tinubu said he would focus on consolidating the virtues of democracy and upholding the interest of the regional body, which will clock 50 years in 2025. 

He appointed President of Senegal, His Excellency, Mr. Bassirou Diomaye Faye, and President of Togo, His Excellency, Mr. Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé, as Special Envoys to Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger Republic, three countries which announced their withdrawal from ECOWAS in January.

Tinubu stated, “I have appointed the President of Senegal, Bassirou Diomaye Faye, to please, become our Special Envoy to Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger Republic, along with the President of Togo, Faure Gnassingbé, to do around the clock work with our brothers in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger Republic, and to coordinate with me and the ECOWAS Commission, where necessary.

“I have accepted to continue the service to the great members and the great minds that are committed to democratic values and our journey in the region.

“I will continue to serve our interest and build on democratic values and the structure that we inherited.” 

The Nigerian leader stressed that reasonable financial resources were crucial to operationalise the ECOWAS Standby Force (ESF) and combat terrorism, banditry and violent extremism in the region. 

He called on member nations to honour their financial obligations to enable ECOWAS to meet the expectations and recommendations of its Ministers of Defence and Finance. 

According to him, fulfilling these commitments would help stabilise the region and counter insecurity.

Tinubu said, “By meeting their financial commitments, ECOWAS member states will demonstrate their dedication to regional security and cooperation, enabling the community to better address the security challenges facing West Africa.

“Let me underscore that a peaceful and secure society is essential for achieving our potential, 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 Defence 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 Centre (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 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 the facilities and the capabilities of NCTC.”

The Nigerian president also advised ECOWAS member-states to unite and develop innovative approaches to unlock the region’s economic potential and promote prosperity. 

He acknowledged the economic hurdles hindering progress and stressed the need for partnerships, investment, and infrastructure development.

The president stressed the importance of a conducive business environment to stimulate growth and build resilience against external shocks. 

Commenting on the financial challenges facing ECOWAS, he urged member-states to comply with the protocol on community levies to ensure adequate resources for the organisation’s programmes, assuring them of Nigeria’s commitment not to default on its own finance commitments.

Tinubu declared, “Nigeria, under my leadership, is committed to leading by example by remitting its collected levies to the organisation.”

He said, “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.”

Earlier, President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Omar Alieu Touray, said the region had proven that democracy was alive, given the recent successful transitions in Senegal, Nigeria, Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.

“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 said.

He, however, warmed that the region was still being confronted with multidimensional challenges, which seemed to overshadow its modest achievements. 

Touray said, “Our region is still confronted with multiple interlocking threats, including existential works. This include climatic and man-made crisis, 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 undermine social cohesion.”

He revealed that the commission had commenced preparation towards the 50th anniversary celebration of ECOWAS. 

Touray said the commission was proposing a Special Extra-Ordinary Summit on the future of the community.

He stated, “It is, however, important to note that we will be celebrating our golden jubilee in a context marked by geostrategic and geopolitical rivalries that have not spared our region. 

“We must, therefore, be proactive in our response to these developments. It is for this reason that the commission is proposing a Special Extra-Ordinary Summit on the future of our Community. 

“The honourable ministers have considered this proposal and instructed that a memorandum be submitted for your consideration.”

Ogun State Governor Dapo Abiodun said the re-election of Tinubu as Chairman of ECOWAS was an attestation of his leadership qualities.

In a congratulatory message to the president, Abiodun said Tinubu’s re-election reflected the unwavering confidence reposed in his leadership by the region.

According to him, since his first election two years ago, Tinubu has laid a solid framework for the future integration of the sub-region as well as fostered security among the people.

Abiodun praised the president for showing statesmanship by the way he handled the recent violent change of government by three member states, noting that this averted what could have been a serious crisis in the region.

The governor stated, “Under President Tinubu’s guidance, ECOWAS has made remarkable strides in fostering economic integration, promoting regional peace and security, and enhancing cooperation among member states. 

“His dedication to advancing the interests of the West African region has been evident throughout his first tenure, and we are confident that his reappointment will further accelerate the progress achieved thus far.”

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