Muhammadu Buhari has called on West African leaders to exert pressure on the military leadership of Mali to ensure the country’s transition process does not collapse.
The President’s position is contained in his statement delivered at the 59th Ordinary session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS on Saturday in Accra, Ghana.
The Nigerian leader spoke on the situation in Mali, which was recently suspended from the regional bloc, due to a military coup.
He said, ”At this Summit today, we are expected to review several important reports, dealing with various issues of concerns to our organisation and people.
”In doing so, we must take realistic and practical decisions, which will positively impact our citizens.
”Some of those decisions, necessarily will have to do with evolving political and security situations in our sub-region, as well as evaluate the health of our organisation, with the hope of repositioning, to serve our people and sub-region better.
”While democracy continues to develop in our sub-region, recent events in Mali are sad reminders, that vigilance remains a crucial imperative, to protect people’s aspirations, to freely choose the form of Government they want.
”Pressures are needed to ensure that the transition process in Mali, which is halfway to its conclusion, is not aborted.
”A further slide in Mali, could prove catastrophic to the sub-region, considering that about half of that country is unfortunately under the grip of terrorists.”
President Buhari, therefore, appealed to the military leadership in Mali, to understand the critical state of their country, which he described as being ‘clearly under siege.’
Noting that the principal responsibility of the military, is to protect and guarantee the sovereignty of the West African country.
The President cautioned them not to perpetrate acts, that would facilitate the destabilization and destruction of Mali.
”I urge our organization to remain engaged with all stakeholders in Mali, through our astute mediator, former President Goodluck Jonathan, whom, I congratulate warmly, for his untiring efforts thus far. I encourage him to sustain these efforts, to ensure that the transition is completed as scheduled.”
In Libya, President Buhari faulted the recent United Nations resolution to expel all foreign fighters, without first ensuring that they are disarmed, and in non-collaboration with regional stakeholders.
”On the security situation in the region, our organisation must note with serious concern, the recent decision by the United Nations, and its resolution to expel all foreign fighters in Libya, without first, ensuring that they are disarmed, and that neighbouring country and the sub-regions were engaged, to put in place, modalities for containing, or managing the movement of these fighters.
The President reiterated that the regions, face the clear possibility of instability, with the invasion of the foreign fighters that are fully armed.
The statement by the Nigerian leader at the summit, also addressed other pertinent issues of concern in the organisation, including the ongoing institutional reforms in ECOWAS.
Declaring Nigeria’s unequivocal support to the reform process, the President said, he was looking forward to an ECOWAS that is ”fit for purpose”, delivering services, to the satisfaction of the community citizens.
He commended the President of the Commission and his team, the Ad-hoc Ministerial Committee on Institutional Reforms, as well as the Council of Ministers, for the excellent report presented to the Authority of Heads of State.
In his capacity as the ECOWAS Champion, on the fight against Covid-19, President Buhari also drew attention, to the need for more citizens in the region to be vaccinated, stressing the need for adherence to other non-pharmaceutical interventions.
He said the West African region was in the grip of a third wave, warning against complacency in national and regional initiatives, to address the pandemic.
President Buhari however reaffirmed Nigeria’s commitment, to the noble objectives of the Organisation, and encouraged everyone to take bolder steps, towards ensuring that the Organisation, fulfils the aspirations of its founding fathers, which include, a truly integrated sub-region, economically, politically, socio-culturally united and secured, to permit its sustainable development and growth.