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Thursday, 22 February 2024 06:09

Give Tinubu’s reforms more time - Gowon pleads with Nigerians

ECOWAS should lift suspension on Niger, Mali, B/Faso


The Federal Government is trying it’s best to deal with the various problems and it should be given time for it’s efforts to manifest, former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon said yesterday.

Gowon, Nigeria’s war-time leader, who was head of state between 1966 and 1975, spoke at Aso Villa, Abuja after meeting with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

It was the first visit of the 89-year-old elder statesman to the seat of power since May 29 last year when President Tinubu assumed office.

Speaking to reporters, Gowon, who led the country during the 1967 to January 1970 civil war, also urged the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to lift the sanction imposed on Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger Republic, following military takeover of power, in the interest of peace.

Gowon is one of the founding fathers of ECOWAS in 1975.

The former head of state told reporters: “I was telling him (Tinubu) that there’s no Nigerian leader that will not get all of these (criticisms), all that is being said about him.

“Certainly, there is no doubt about all one has heard and seen from the media.

“I think the government is trying it’s best to deal with the various problems.

“All one can say to Nigerians is that they have to give the President time to get things done.

“It is too early to say the perfect result will be achieved. That is my opinion.

“At least, if I remember, I was told that I was too slow fighting the war, that probably Nigeria would not make it and that we should seek for discussion.

“Well, did we do it or not? They probably did not know the problems on the ground then”.

The former military leader called for peace in the sub-region, saying, “Being the surviving leader among the founding fathers of ECOWAS, I think we had to discuss some of his (Tinubu) plans to see what can be done to bring the matter under control.”

Gen. Gowon pleaded in a letter to ECOWAS Commission President Dr. Omar Alieu Touray for dialogue.

The letter reads: “I have noted with deep concern and sadness, the past and recent developments unfolding in the West African sub-region, particularly the pronouncement by Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger of their intention to exit from ECOWAS.

“As one of the founders of our regional economic community, it is incumbent upon me to speak on behalf of the 14 Heads of State and Government who joined me in Lagos, on 27th May 1975, to establish ECOWAS.

“Since its inception, the regional bloc has made a number of major accomplishments, including trade liberalisation, the right of West Africans to live legitimately in any country within the Community, as well as successful peacekeeping operations in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

“ECOWAS, despite its shortcomings, has become an example of regional integration for the wider continent.

“Having achieved all of the above, it saddens me to learn that ECOWAS is threatened with disunity following the announcement by Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, three important member states, of their intention to leave the Community.

“The impact of such a decision will have far-reaching implications for the ordinary citizens who have been the major beneficiaries of regional integration.

“Therefore, on behalf of all the founding fathers of the Community and myself, I urge the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, including the leaders of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, to put aside their differences and reunite for the peace, stability and prosperity of our sub-region.

“I call on all West African leaders to immediately consider the implementation of the following: lifting of all sanctions that have been imposed on Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali and Niger;

“Withdrawal by Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger of their notices to leave ECOWAS; and participation of all 15 ECOWAS Heads of State in a Summit to discuss the future of the community, regional security and stability, as well as the role of the international community given the current geopolitical context;

“I wish to once more reiterate to regional leaders that ECOWAS is more than a coalition of states.

“It is a community established for the good of our people based on shared history, culture and tradition.

“Neither my generation nor present or future generations will understand or forgive the breakup of our Community.”


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