Common Sense Advice To ECOWAS From General Gowon

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President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and former Head of State, Gen Yakubu Gowon during a visit to the Presidential Villa Abuja, yesterday. PHOTO BY REMI AKUNLEYAN
​The emotional appeal to the ECOWAS Authority made by the surviving founding father and former Nigerian Head of State General Yakubu Gowon has come at an incredibly precarious time for the entire West African region. The objective aspiration promoted by the elderly statesman is rooted in the eternal human values of common sense and public responsibility, which were hallmarks of the Gowon era of governance and leadership.
It should not be forgotten that when ECOWAS was first formulated several of the founding nations were actually being ruled by military juntas. The establishment of the democratic imperative as a core incentive of theinstitution’s value system emerged from the 1993 treaty review exercise which was guided by the then very innovative Executive Secretary the Sierra Leonean lawyer Dr. Abbas Bundu. Dr. Bundu is now Speaker of the Parliament in his home nation and in recent times the Government of Sierra Leone was confronted with the spectre of insurgent seizure of power when a gang of supposed political partisans attempted to overthrow it. Such irregular conduct by political miscreants is what the ECOWAS authority is attempting to resistwhen it refuses to consider membership of countries that have been taken over by military rulers but in his simple and direct appeal General Gowon espouses amore tolerant viewpoint towards maintaining regional stability.
​General Gowon’s letter makes it plain that the major objective of the institution should be to serve the interests of the majority of citizens in the former WestAfrican colonies regardless of what formula of government they have been subjected to. He lists themajor achievements of the institution and suggests that the breakdown of regional integration will undermine public order in the member states if dialogue among them is compromised. His appeal appears to reflect a major generational divide that has developed in the region between political leaders of the past and those of the contemporary era. Their major objectives differ and whereas the founding fathers of the institutioncondoned differences in national perceptions of leadership as responses to differing domestic circumstances many contemporary national leaders appear to wish to impose their own political attitude on their neighbours. Instead of this General Gowon encourages the leaders of the institution to deploy dialogue and communication among both political and military leaders in order to serve the wishes of the people and to deal with the political realities of the times. He is advocating diplomatic commonsense as the operational process of ECOWAS policy formulation. His advice should be heeded by thecontemporary inheritors of the legacy of cooperation and dialogue that the founding fathers intended to be the core values of the institution and the entire West African region.


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