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Greed for power disincentive to democracy, says Buhari at AU

By Terhemba Daka, Abuja
29 May 2022   |   3:43 am
President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the desire of some leaders to remain in power after completing their constitutional terms in office easily results in violence..

Buhari. facebook.com/MuhammaduBuhari

– Endorses African Standby Force To End Terrorism

President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the desire of some leaders to remain in power after completing their constitutional terms in office easily results in violence, loss of lives and displacements across the continent, urging a stronger position by the African Union (AU).

At the 16th Extraordinary Session of Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union, holding at Sipopo International Conference Centre, yesterday in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, the President noted that attempts at tenure elongation by some leaders reverses the gains of democracy and good governance in Africa, and serves as recipe for volatility and violence.

President Buhari advised leaders to consider strengthening democratic structures and cultures by adhering to the constitution.

He said: “Mr. Chairperson, let me start by thanking the Chairperson of the Commission for the comprehensive report we have received on Unconstitutional Changes of Government in Africa.  We are equally grateful to H.E. Julius Maada Bio, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone for his lead intervention on this pressing continental issue, especially for those of us in West Africa, where the spate of unconstitutional change of government have been increasingly alarming.

“Your Excellencies, as you are aware, in the past couple of months, we have witnessed a spate of unconstitutional changes and a return of military incursion in the continent. This situation is totally unacceptable. It is an attempt to draw the continent backward and derail the great mileage we had gained over the years in our quest for sustainable democracy.

“In the West African region, the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government have not shied away from taking appropriate steps and measures to curtail this unpleasant trend. I dare say that we have demonstrated great political will, in out-rightly condemning military incursions and unconstitutional Change of Government wherever it occurred,’’ he said.

The President said far-reaching sanctions were imposed on ECOWAS countries that had unconstitutional change of government, when it became necessary, adding, “It is therefore imperative to call on the African Union Heads of State and Government to express the same level of political will to ensure that this unfortunate trend, especially in Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso is curbed.

“We must work collectively to ensure that constitutional democracy is restored to these countries as quickly as possible. There should be no room for unconstitutional change of governments in the continent. I reiterate that the resurgence of coup d’etats in our continent calls for deep introspection on our parts as leaders. It requires our better appreciation of the root causes of military incursion into our politics. 

“As African leaders we have a duty to provide good governance to our citizens, address cases of extreme poverty and engender peaceful, free and fair elections in our countries. We must shun all calls for tenure elongation beyond the provisions of our respective constitutions,’’ the President told the African leaders.

Meanwhile, the President has endorsed recommendation on setting up an African Standby Force on Terrorism. Speaking at a session on Terrorism and Violent Extremism in Africa, President Buhari called on leaders to muster the political will that will fuel synergy, enhance intelligence gathering and bring more urgency in tackling violent crimes.

He said resources meant for development of countries had been channeled into fighting violent crimes, leaving many governments with fewer options on investing in people to meet the targets of Sustainable Development Goals.

Following presentation of a report on Terrorism and Violent Extremism in Africa at the meeting, President Buhari highlighted four items in the recommendation for immediate action.

“In the West African region, we are working very hard through the instrumentality of ECOWAS to combat terrorism.  The Multi National Joint Task Force in the Lake Chad region and the G5 in the Sahel have continued to degrade the insurgents by substantially reducing their capacity to inflict harm on our citizens.

“Mr. Chairman, these efforts, however, need to be strengthened and complemented by the African Union, through the African Union Peace and Security Architecture.

“It is for this reason, Mr. Chairperson, that we endorse the key recommendations contained in your report. Some of the recommendations, which we believe should be implemented immediately include increasing troop levels in situations of combating terrorism, and enhancing intelligence capabilities of deployed troops, including improving the operational cooperation of contingents in the operation areas. Ensuring the readiness of the African Standby Force for immediate response when a member State is under terrorist threat;

“Strengthening the fight against cybercrime, money laundering, drugs and arms trafficking, smuggling of persons and counterfeit goods, which facilitate terrorist financing; and ensuring that specialized institutions like the African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism and AFRIPOL, are adequately resourced in order for them to effectively discharge their mandate,’’ he said.