Tinubu re-elected as ECOWAS chairman

President Bola Tinubu at the 65th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government at the State House Conference Centre in Abuja on Sunday, July 7th, 2024.

President Bola Tinubu has been re-elected as the chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), about one year after he took over the leadership of the regional bloc.

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

The Nigerian leader who rose to power in May 2023 was re-elected as the ECOWAS chairman during the 65th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government. That event took place at the Presidential Villa in Nigeria’s Abuja capital on Sunday.

‘Build on democratic values’
A cross-section of leaders at the ECOWAS meeting.

In his acceptance speech, President Tinubu said he would focus on consolidating the values of democracy and upholding the interest of the regional body.

“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,” he said according to a statement by his spokesman Ajuri Ngelale.

“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 interests and build on democratic values and the structure that we inherited. Thank you very much.”

Stabilising fund

During his opening remark at the summit, President Tinubu urged ECOWAS member states to make financial commitments to help in the battle against terrorism in the region.

“As we 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,” he told the gathering.

“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 commitments to providing resources for stabilising the region.”

Coup-hit region

In recent years, ECOWAS has been hit by a wave of coups in member nations. Niger Republic, Mali, and Burkina Faso have been taken over by junta leaders.

ECOWAS had in the wake of the coups imposed a raft of sanctions including border closure on the three nations.

While they were lifted in February, the countries left the regional bloc a few days later. The trio said they have “irrevocably turned their backs” on ECOWAS and have instead formed the Alliance of Sahel States (AES).

During the AES maiden summit in the Nigerien capital of Niamey on Saturday, Niger Republic’s military leader Abdourahamane Tiani accused ECOWAS of incompetence in tackling jihadists’ incursion into the region.

“Our people have irrevocably turned their backs on ECOWAS,” Tiani insisted.

“The AES is the only effective sub-regional grouping in the fight against terrorism,” Tiani declared on Saturday, calling ECOWAS “conspicuous by its lack of involvement in this fight”.

The exit came as the trio shifted away from former colonial ruler France, with Tiani calling for the new bloc to become a “community far removed from the stranglehold of foreign powers”.