The withdrawal of three member states comprising the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), under the leadership of President Bola Tinubu is a national disgrace and shame to Nigeria, a former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Timi Frank, has said.
According to him, the inability of Tinubu to peacefully resolve the lingering issues leading to the exit of Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso from ECOWAS does not augur well for the leadership roles his predecessors have played in keeping the subregion united and peaceful.
“Whether Tinubu likes it or not, he met the 15-member regional group established about 49 years ago intact when he assumed the reins of leadership as chairman in July 2023. But history will record that things fell apart during his ineffectual, riderless and neglectful stewardship in less than seven months,” Frank said in a statement in Abuja on Tuesday.
The military regimes in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger had last Sunday announced their immediate breakaway from the ECOWAS and joined forces in an “Alliance of Sahel States.”
The regimes have been having fractured ties with ECOWAS since coups took place in Niger last July, Burkina Faso in 2022 and Mali in 2020 as they have been struggling with jihadist violence and poverty.
The three regimes were suspended from ECOWAS with Niger and Mali facing heavy sanctions but they had maintained their hard-line positions in recent months.
Frank in his reaction to the withdrawal said the buck should stop at the table of President Tinubu who is the present chairman of the body for failing to use his position to foster peace through effective dialogue but rather had maintained a hardline stance including a botched attempt to spearhead the use of arms to restore democracy in Niger.
He said, “Since assuming office as President of Nigeria, Tinubu has demonstrated his lack of nuanced understanding of regional politics and empathy for poor and suffering Nigerians – his primary constituency.
“No man can give what he does not have. His poor leadership of the regional body has led to its ongoing disintegration just as it has brought untold hardship upon Nigerians.
“Your inexperience and that of those handling the economy has destroyed our economy. Investors have refused to come into the Region and particularly in Nigeria as they are seen pulling out of Nigeria on a daily basis .
“For instance, Tinubu met the exchange rate of Naira to Dollar at about N600 to a dollar but today it is about N1,500 to a dollar. Besides, his knee-jerk removal of fuel subsidy has further impoverished Nigerians with people finding it difficult to feed or afford skyrocketing transport fares.
“Above all, insecurity is on the increase with the nation’s capital – FCT – and other parts of the country rendered increasingly unsafe by incessant kidnappings and gruesome killings.
“How can a man who has not been able to secure and ensure peace in his house be counted upon to provide leadership to a politically, culturally and religiously diverse 15 sovereign nations?
“Today, Tinubu is destroying ECOWAS just like he is doing to Nigeria. Tinubu has introduced regionalism into the governance of Nigeria.
“His latest move which must be rejected and resisted by all is to move the nation’s capital back to Lagos through the back by relocating key government agencies, including the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to Lagos. Injustice cannot but breed discontent and disunity.”
Frank called on President Tinubu to retrace his hasty steps and toxic economic policies both as chairman of ECOWAS and President of Nigeria and equally to ensure that the powers entrusted to him do not ruin the country and the subregion socially, politically and economically.
“To say the least, you won’t be on private visit when your house is burning.The right thing to do was to come back home immediately and have an emergency meeting in furtherance of your resignation as ECOWAS chairman, if you has any iota of shame left.
It is insensitive and a glaring sign of incompetence.
The activist called on the President to seek advice from former Nigerian Presidents who also acted as chairmen of ECOWAS on how to lead Nigeria and the subregional organization.