Abiodun OBA

The recent takeover of power in West Africa, has been described as unconstitutional, unacceptable and has no place in the 21st century.

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo gave the stand on Thursday while representing President Muhammadu Buhari at a virtual Extraordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS member-states on the political developments in the Republics of Guinea and Mali.

Osinbajo therefore, called on the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to take proactive steps to prevent coups d’etat in the sub-region and by extension the African continent.

According to him, the unconstitutional seizure of power in any shape or form is simply unacceptable and has no place whatsoever in the 21st century.

Presenting Nigeria’s position on the unfortunate development in Guinea, the vice-president said: “I join all well-meaning global leaders to express in the strongest terms the condemnation of the Government of Nigeria of this unconstitutional change of government; a development that could seriously destabilize the Republic of Guinea.

“What happened in Guinea is a brazen disregard for the provisions of ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance, which clearly states that every accession to power must be made through free, fair and transparent election.

“The unconstitutional seizure of power in any shape or form is simply unacceptable. Four coups within the last few months is a dangerous trend indeed in the sub-region.”

While expressing concern, he proposed an idea which the Chairman of ECOWAS and President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, later described as “a proposal of great weight”.

According to the vice-president, “We are sliding back to the infamous 60s. Our zero-tolerance for coups is important but clearly insufficient. Are there further steps that we can take to prevent coups d’etat?

“Could we, for example, work out an understanding with the UN, AU, Commonwealth and possibly, even the development finance institutions we are a part of to act in unity to suspend a country where there has been a seizure of power from all these bodies simultaneously?”

In the same vein, the vice-president noted that it was imperative that countries in the sub-region respect the provisions against unconstitutional accession to power and to apply it in all instances.

He then called on the Authority to immediately invoke the provisions of Article 45 of the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance by suspending Guinea from all ECOWAS decision-making bodies and statutory meetings.

“We should also take any other necessary punitive measures that will ensure that the military junta does not overstay in power.

“We must forestall a repeat of military interventions and the instability it engenders in the West African sub-region. In this connection, Nigeria wishes to once again urge all to always respect the principles of democracy and the constitutions of your respective countries,” he said.

Osinbajo further urged the ECOWAS Commission to without further delay appoint a mediator to lead the region’s genuine engagement with the military junta, all political actors, and civil society groups in Guinea towards finding a lasting solution that will return the country to democratic rule as soon as possible.

He added that ECOWAS must use its regional mechanisms efficiently to engage the military junta and if necessary, provide support for them to return the country to normalcy and democratic rule.

Other steps to be taken in finding a lasting solution to the unfortunate development in Guinea, according to him, was for the military junta to not only ensure the physical safety of President Condé and all those detained along with him but also ensure his immediate and unconditional release.

“The safety of lives and property of the people of Guinea must also be guaranteed. The military must draw up a timetable for a civilian-led transition and commence the process of exiting the Guinean political stage and return the country to constitutional order and civilian rule,” Osinbajo said.

Also commenting on the update on the situation in Mali, Osinbajo commended former President Goodluck Jonathan for his continued commitment and engagement with the various stakeholders in Mali.

He said: “Let me reiterate the imperative for the Malian Transitional government to strictly respect the electoral timetable unveiled on 15th April 2021. I further call for the continued support and collaboration of all the major players in the country’s march towards a successful transition.”

The vice-president thereafter stressed that Nigeria will continue to closely monitor the situations in Guinea and Mali as well as work with the ECOWAS Commission, the African Union, and other member-states to facilitate the return of both countries to civil governance.

The meeting, attended by 10 of the ECOWAS leaders, alongside others, including representatives from the United Nations, was holding in the wake of the ouster of the Guinean President Alpha Conde in a coup d’etat in the West African country on September 5th which culminated in his arrest and detention by the country’s military junta, the dissolution of the Guinean Government, suspension of the constitution, and a military takeover.

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