- President Tinubu harped on coup detat in the sub-region
- Senate hailed the President
- Media experts gave reasons why he might not perform well
On Sunday, July 9, 2023 President Bola Tinubu was elected the Chairman of Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS.
President Tinubu emerged chairman of the ECOWAS during the 63rd Ordinary Session of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government in Bissau, Capital of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau.
President Bola Tinubu was the new entrant member of the Heads of States of the African sub-region, succeeding President Umaro Embalo of Guinea Bissau as the ECOWAS chairman.
However, in his speech after the election, President Tinubu stated that “we should promote economic independence of the region. The region is only independence politically but not in terms of economic independence. That is why they still depend on the Western world to grow her economy.
“Much dependence on importation of goods and services cripples the economy of the region. The citizens should be encouraged to embark on local production in other to grow the economy of west Africa.
“This can be achieved through the provision of enablements by the government of the region.
“We also have the responsibility of ensuring peace and stability in the region, which entails the promotion and strengthening of democracy in the West Africa States.”
By and large, since the election of President Tinubu into the coveted office of the African sub-region, many media experts, politicians and technocrats have continued to see the position as an opportunity to navigate Nigeria out of the pyramid of security and socio-economic impasse she has been unwittingly plunged into.
In a congratulatory message by the Nigerian Senate, it described the election as an opportunity to promote democracy in the sub-region.
The congratulatory message was a sequel to a motion moved by Deputy Senate President Jibrin Barau at plenary on Wednesday.
Moving the motion, Mr Barau said Mr Tinubu, by clinching this influential and strategic position on his first participation, showed that the sub-regional body had reposed great confidence in his leadership qualities.
“It also reaffirms Nigeria’s leadership role on the African continent generally and the sub-region in particular.
“As the Chairman of ECOWAS, President Bola Tinubu is in a strategic and vantage position to uphold ECOWAS protocol which is promotion of peace and conflict resolution within the West African Sub-region.
“To promote democracy and good governance, strengthen the collective response to security threats within the sub-region, and generally, foster economic cooperation amongst ECOWAS member states.
“The emergence of Tinubu as the Chairman of ECOWAS is a testimony of his avowed commitment to good governance promised Nigeria which the policies and decisions taken so far are yielding results and beginning to reposition our economy.”
Also contributing, Adamu Aliero (PDP-Kebbi) described the president as the symbol of the nation.
“An honour done to the president is an honour done to all Nigerians. For that reason, we congratulate the president and also Nigerians for getting this honour from the leadership of ECOWAS.
“I am not surprised because the president has proved to be a leader that is very competent in whatever responsibility he is given.
“As a governor, he performed wonderfully well, and as a president, he has started very well, and I am sure he will perform credibly to the admiration of Nigerians.
“He started by removing the petroleum subsidy, which has been lingering for over 18 years.
“We are hoping that the palliatives that he promised will soon come so they can cushion the effects of the petroleum subsidy removal,” he said.
For Godiya Akwashiki (SDP – Nasarawa), “Now that they have given Tinubu an additional responsibility to lead the ECOWAS, I want to believe it is a call to him and all of us, leaders of this country in one way or the other to make sure we support him.
“We should support him to make sure he creates ideas that will move Nigeria forward and that will bring development and infrastructure to our people in their doorsteps.
“I want to urge the president to live up to expectation and to ensure things are done according to the rules and due process and according to the Constitution.”
Also speaking, Titus Zam (APC-Benue) said the president’s elevation to the leadership of ECOWAS would give the nation the privilege and veritable platform to address its security challenges.
Ahmad Lawan (APC-Yobe), on his part, said that one way that the Senate and, indeed, the National Assembly would help the president was through the ECOWAS parliament.
He said: “Issues that are germane to us and indeed across the ECOWAS, which include security and infrastructure development, must be at the front burner.
“And these are some of the issues that the president has championed before and has promised to champion.
“This is a senate that we will have to make as efficient and effective as possible to support the executive arm of government.”
Orji Uzor Kalu (APC-Abia) thanked the Heads of State of ECOWAS for recognising Mr Tinubu.
“It is coming at a time when our people in the sub-region are harassed.
“The president should use his office to address these issues,” he said.
In his reaction, President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, described Mr Tinubu’s emergence as a welcome development.
“It further renews the hope of all Nigerians that yes, indeed, the administration of Tinubu will bring good tidings to all.
“As soon as we have our committee on foreign affairs, we will address the issue of harassment of Nigerians outside the country.”
In any case, part of the President Tinubu’s speech also stressed that coup detat would not be tolerated in the sub-region.
This is coming when the region has suffered a whole lot of military interregnums in recent years, raising fears that there might be a return of early 20s military incursion in the polity.
Catalogue of military coups in the continent in the last three years
In less than three years, there had been four military coups in the African countries, three of them in West Africa.
Burkina Faso January, 24, 2022
In Burkina Faso, On Monday January 24th, 2022, some military officers in the West African nation of Burkina Faso detained the country’s President Roch Kabore and took over power. This marked yet another one in a series of coups that have taken place in the region over the past year.
Guinea, September 5, 2021
On the morning of Sunday September 5th, 2021, military officers surrounded the presidential palace in Conakry, as part of a plan to take over power. Some hours later, heavy gun fires were heard in the city after which President Alpha Condé was captured and detained by the military.
It was gathered that the Guinean coup was led by Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, a special forces commander. And the reason he gave was that there was too much poverty and corruption in the country.
Chad, April 20, 2021
Although some people do not like to regard this event as a coup, it was still technically a coup. Let’s quickly refresh your memory, just in case you have forgotten what really happened.
Between April 11 and April 20, Chad’s former President Idriss Déby took Commander-In-Chief to a whole new level by going to the battle field with the military as they fought against rebels fomenting troubles both in the country and even in some parts of Nigeria. Unfortunately, on the 9th day of the offensive, he was killed on the frontline.
According to the country’s constitution, the Speaker of parliament was supposed to assume the role of president in the face of such an event. Instead, the military quickly dissolved the parliament and made the late President’s son —General Mahamat Déby —the acting President.
Mali, May 24, 2021
This may sound surprising to you. But in less than a year, two separate coups occurred in Mali. The first coup happened on August 18, 2020, when soldiers ousted President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta from office and seized power.
Following the coup, President Bah N’daw emerged as the interim president. But the fast-forward to the night of May 24, 2021, yet another coup happened. President Bah N’daw, alongside acting Prime Minister Moctar Ouane and others were detained and stripped off their powers. In the meantime, Colonel Assimi Goïta an interim president.
However, many Nigerians have expressed their reservation over the election of President as the ECOWAS Chairman.
Dr. Innocent Chidumebi Okonkwo, a political analyst and Media consultant told WITHIN NIGERIA in an exclusive chat that nothing new will come out of the ascension of President Tinubu as the ECOWAS Chairman.
According to Dr. Okonkwo, the election is given to Nigeria as a rotational slot favours Nigeria.
“President Tinubu only emerged as the Chairman of ECOWAS because it was the turn of Nigeria to produce the Chairmanship of the West African organization. It has nothing to do with credibility.
“It should be noted that the Economic Community of West Africa States rotate the Chairmanship position of the organization in turns by member States and not by election.
“Since it was the turn of Nigeria to produce the chairman of the organization, even if it was any other person that won the Nigerian presidential election, that person would have automatically become the Chairperson of the ECOWAS.
“It boils down to the major reason why people believe he may not do well in the presidency due to age factor. If it were to be by election a lot of countries would have gone for a younger president. Meanwhile, I wish him well.”
Nevertheless, another Media consultant and social critic, Chief Nkem Ossai explained that the President lacked the legitimacy to lead the sub-region.
Chief Ossai, the Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Eastern Echoes online newspaper stated President is also not fit health wise to shoulder the duties demanded of him as the ECOWAS Chairman.
“First, the issue of his illegitimate ascendancy to power will always come into play at all times. This will always appear like a plague before him and Nigerian people he claims to represent. In that sense, other West African leaders will always have reservation in dealing with him.
“Secondly, his fragile health is a serious issue to managing sub-regional organization like ECOWAS. To Nigeria, everything goes. We are enveloped in a stupendous corruption so, nobody cares.
“And remember, he was not elected to chair ECOWAS because he is qualified. He was put there because the body operates rotational leadership system and now, it is Nigeria’s turn.”