President Muhammadu Buhari has advised ECOWAS leaders not to deploy any measure to elongate their tenure in office beyond constitutional limits.
Garba Shehu, the president’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, in a statement in Abuja, on Monday, September 7, said Buhari made the appeal while presenting Nigeria’s General Statement at the 57th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government in Niamey, the Niger Republic on Monday.
The Nigerian leader urged his colleagues to respect constitutional provisions and ensure free and fair elections.
Buhari said: “It is important that as leaders of our individual Member-States of ECOWAS, we need to adhere to the constitutional provisions of our countries, particularly on term limits.
“This is one area that generates crisis and political tension in our sub-region.
“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 also 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.”
On the political situation in Mali, Buhari described it as a serious concern to ECOWAS.
He commended President Mahamadou Issoufou of the Niger Republic and out-going Chair of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government and the Leadership of the ECOWAS Commission, as well as the Chief Mediator, former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, “for effectively demonstrating commitment in handling the political situation in that country.”
“Nigeria remains resolutely committed to ECOWAS decision for a civilian-led Transition Government not exceeding 12 months.
“This is important because of the circumstances surrounding Mali where violent non-state actors and also other negative tendencies reside; and who can take advantage of the unstable political situation to overrun the country; thereby plunging it into greater danger that will affect the political stability of the whole sub-region.
“While Nigeria understands the current political realities in Mali; the sub-region’s commitment to the Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance must never be compromised.
“An early return to democratic governance which is transparent and civilian-led will commend itself for Nigeria’s support; for progressive relaxation of sanctions against Mali,” he said.
On security, Buhari, noted that terrorism had continued to be the greatest security threat in the sub-region; complicating other national security challenges.
Buhari, therefore, stressed the need for the sub-region to collaborate more; by working hand in hand with each other; to combat the root causes of the different security-related manifestations in their respective countries.
“Nigeria is concerned with the rapidity at which terrorist groups in the Sahel as well as West Africa are working together against all of us.
“We must urgently review these ugly developments to guarantee the safety and survival of our sub-region.
“Our national security apparatus and the relevant Units of ECOWAS must urgently be seized; with these unfolding events across our sub-region; and act also decisively on the emergence of early warning signs,” he said.