President Muhammadu Buhari has called on ECOWAS leaders not to elongate their tenure in office beyond constitutional limits, urging them to respect legal provisions and ensure free and fair elections.
He gave the warning on Monday while presenting Nigeria’s General Statement at the 57th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government in Niamey, Niger Republic.
“As it is, the challenges facing the sub-region are enormous; from socio-economic matters to security issues, the ECOWAS sub-region cannot therefore afford another political crisis, in the guise of tenure elongation. I urge us all to resist the temptation of seeking to perpetuate ourselves in power beyond the constitutional provisions.
“I commend those in our midst that have resisted such temptations, for they will be deemed exceptional role models in their respective countries and the sub-region as a whole. “Related to this call for restraint is the need to guarantee free, fair and credible elections.
This must be the bedrock for democracy to be sustained in our sub-region, just as the need for adherence to the rule of law,” he said.
He said the political situation in Mali was of serious concern to ECOWAS. He said Nigeria was concerned with the rapidity at which terrorist groups in the Sahel and West Africa are working together against all West African countries.
He said ECOWAS leaders must urgently review these ugly developments to guarantee the safety and survival of the sub-region.
“Terrorism continues to be the greatest security threat in our sub-region, complicating other national security challenges. As a sub-region, we need to collaborate more by working hand in hand with each other, to combat the root causes of the different security-related manifestations in our countries.
“Our national security apparatus and the relevant Units of ECOWAS must urgently be seized with these unfolding events across our sub-region and act decisively on the emergence of early warning signs,” he said.
He said Nigeria remained resolutely committed to ECOWAS decision for a civilian-led transition government in Mali not exceeding 12 months. Buhari said Nigeria remained committed to the implementation of the action plan towards the actualization of the monetary union and single currency programme of ECOWAS.
Buhari, who said “the premature adoption of the “ECO” had unnecessarily heightened disaffection and mistrust among members of the emerging monetary union”, encouraged “UEMOA (French acronym for the West African Economic and Monetary Union) to return to the roadmap on the common currency in the sub-region.”
He also urged all stakeholders to “bear in mind that those economic convergence criteria must be based on sound and sustainable macroeconomic fundamentals.” Buhari, who observed that the Summit was holding “under a very complex health pandemic, whose impact on the global health and economy has so far been devastating”, said:
“like the rest of the world, our sub-region is witnessing economic downturn with negative growth that is headed towards deep recession and the outlook continues to be uncertain.” Buhari, who is the ECOWAS Champion charged with mobilising and coordinating the efforts against the pandemic, admitted that the “outlook for our sub-region with COVID-19 hovering over us is gloomy indeed.”
He, however, expressed confidence that “where there are challenges, opportunities are also available to be seized upon through greater collaboration with each other.” “We must pool our resources together in unity to save our generation and generations to come from multiple challenges, including COVID-19 and related health issues.”