President Bola Tinubu arrives for the closing session of the New Global Financial Pact Summit, on June 23, 2023 in Paris.

President Bola Tinubu arrives for the closing session of the New Global Financial Pact Summit, on June 23, 2023 in Paris.

Photo by LEWIS JOLY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images.

Nigerian President Bola Tinubu Elected Chairman of ECOWAS

Forty-one days after being sworn in as the President of Nigeria, Bola Tinubu has been selected as the new chairman of ECOWAS, an economic and political union of 15 West African countries.

Nigerian President Bola Tinubu has been selected as the next chairman of ECOWAS, the sub-African group, amid growing instability in West Africa marked by military coups and terrorism. Tinubu's election took place during the 63rd Ordinary Session held in Guinea-Bissau's capital, Bissau, on Sunday afternoon.

Over the past few years, West Africa has experienced six successful military takeovers, undermining the region's progress in overcoming its reputation as the "coup belt." The ECOWAS Chairmanship rotates annually among the heads of state or government of member countries, with each serving a one-year term. Nigeria's former president Muhammadu Buhari held the office from 2018 to 2019.

President Umaro Sissoco Embalo of Guinea-Bissau will be succeeded by Tinubu, who emphasized the need for immediate action against instability, including terrorism and coups, which he deemed to have reached "alarming proportions" in West Africa.

As a new member of West Africa's elite club of heads of state, Tinubu pledged to fulfil the responsibilities of the chairmanship and lead an inclusive administration of the regional body. However, he issued a stark warning, acknowledging the serious threat to peace in the sub-region posed by terrorism and the emerging trend of military takeovers. Tinubu stressed the urgency for an immediate and coordinated response, as insecurity and subdued terrorism hinder the region's prosperity and development.

Tinubu stated during the summit, "There is no one here among us who did not campaign to be a leader. We didn't give our soldiers resources, we didn't invest in them, in their boots, in their training to violate the freedom of the people. To turn their guns against civil authorities is a violation of the principles upon which they were hired, which is, to defend the sovereignty of their nations. We must not sit in ECOWAS as toothless bulldogs.".

In a recent development, the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) agreed on Saturday to lift the suspension imposed on Mali by its bodies and institutions. The suspension was initially imposed in January 2022 as a response to the junta's intention to remain in power for an extended period.