You are currently viewing ‘We do not seek to harm important nations’ – Tinubu replies W’African juntas at AU session

‘We do not seek to harm important nations’ – Tinubu replies W’African juntas at AU session

A world, a continent in transition

By Bola Ahmed Tinubu

The world exists in a period of fundamental transition. Neither Africa nor Nigeria is exempt from realities of this transition.

Where there is transition, there inherently is uncertainty. Again, neither Africa nor Nigeria is immune from the uncertainty for it is systemic.

As a continent and as individual nations, we face strong headwinds and difficult hurdles seeking to complicate our mission to bring democratic good governance and economic development to our people. Many of these obstacles such as climate change and unfair patterns of global trade are largely not of our making. However, some of the pitfalls, such as coups and the frequent tinkering with constitutional tenure provisions, we Africans have purposely dug for ourselves.

If we are to be the Africa we seek, we must fill the holes already dug. Most importantly, we must stop the digging of new ones.

Sadly, for my own region, I cannot say this reparative work is being done everywhere and as much as needed.

In West Africa, our glass is half full….but, also half empty.

Last month, we celebrated the peaceful transition of presidential power from one party to another in Liberia. Sierra Leone also held elections last year. Several other ECOWAS members will hold elections this year, further cultivating a tradition of democratic governance and peaceful politics.

However, faced with the harsh difficulties presented by insecurity teamed with poverty, some of our brothers have jettisoned democracy, hoping that military rule will provide quick solutions. Thus, the regional quest for civilian good governance has been impeded by military takeovers in the Republics of Guinea, Burkina Faso, Mail and Niger.

Here, we must sound an alarm. But we also should not be too hasty in concluding that some irresistible wave of military interventions now sweeps the continent. Such sensationalism is no substitute for collective diplomacy and prudential statecraft.

Permit me to use the opportunity of this esteemed venue to state something very clearly and plainly.

In the statement regarding their intention to withdraw from ECOWAS, the military authorities of the three member states asserted that ECOWAS had drifted from its purpose; that we seek to undermine these nations and their people.

As the chairman of EOCWAS, I stand before this Assembly to state that I do not question the sincerity of these leaders of men who are brothers in the same regional and continental families as I am. But I must state for the record that such an interpretation is a most unfortunate and truly mistaken one.

As chairman of ECOWAS, I declare we do not seek to harm these important nations or their people.

Yes, there is disagreement about military takeovers. But disagreement should never mean the permanent rupture of the abiding lines of regional affinity and cooperation.

Yet, an impasse blocks forward progress. Harsh rhetoric has been uttered in the heat of the moment. But pride and personal umbrage should not stand in the way of collective duty and advancement. I take no insult even where insult was clearly intended.

The drive for a peaceful, strong, united West Africa is bigger than any one person.

The bonds of history, culture, commerce, geography and brotherhood have primacy for me.

Thus, out of the dust and fog of misunderstanding and acrimony, we must seize the chance to create an era of trust and accord.

To all who care to listen, I declare that if you come to the table to discuss important matters in good faith, you will find Nigeria and ECOWAS already sitting there waiting to greet you as the brother that you are.


Here, I would be remiss without mentioning events in Gaza and the Middle East. We have seen enough violence and suffering.

It is time to cease armed force and to demand that restraint and dialogue be given a fair chance to deliver a just and lasting solution for all parties involved.


This year’s theme — Education – is essential to a durable solution to the challenges confronting our continent.

Helping to achieve the Agenda 2063 objective of a peaceful and secure Africa, I speak Africa not only of education in terms of the benign use of science and technology to improve the material standards of our people. Africa must also become better educated in the humane art of democratic practice and conflict resolution.

This year’s theme encourages us to remodel our educational systems to fit these goals. In Nigeria, my administration is devoting ample resources to education at all levels. From improving our school feeding program to making ourselves an Information and Communication Technology center, we shall bring more youths to school and afford them the tools needed to flourish in the 21st century.


Admission of the Union into the Group of 20 is a welcome step in our longstanding demand to play our fair and proper role on the global stage.
Nigeria will work closely with South Africa and the Union to justly represent the continent in this forum.

In similar vein, we remained focused on equitable reform of the composition of the UN Security Council.


Nigeria solidly supports current reform efforts aimed at greater efficiencies in Union internal systems and processes. This will lead to a Union better equipped to tackle the various challenges we face now and into the future.


To further the continent’s economic development , we must better utilize the doors to trade, economic diversity and industrialization opened by the Africa Free Trade Area. This includes intensified cooperation in building the connective infrastructure that promotes intra-continental economic activity and true integration.


Violent extremism undermine our efforts toward democratic societies where the rule of law outweighs the rule of armed might.

While progress has been made, it is also timely that we reassess the decisions adopted in Malabo regarding terrorism.


As such, I humbly extend my personal invitation to the Africa Counter Terrorism Summit in April in Abuja.

This summit aims to expand our discussions beyond military and law enforcement remedies to more comprehensively tackle the root causes of violent extremism, such as poverty, inadequate political access and propagation of hateful ideologies.

I ask that you come to Nigeria not only to experience our hospitality but to contribute to a new paradigm for healing this painful wound that hurts us all.


Consonant with the Abuja Treaty, Nigeria is ready to host the African Central Bank. My administration will actively engage with the African Union Commission and member states to ensure the timely commencement of the Bank by 2028.

As I conclude and on a lighter note, I proclaim West Africa the football capital of the Continent. ECOWAS deserves the applause of this Assembly for capturing both Gold and Silver in the African Cup of Nations. Beware, my Flying Eagles are primed to soar even one spot higher next year.


| President Tinubu’s maiden address at the 37th Ordinary Session of African Union in Addis-Ababa

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