By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network
NEW YORK. 11 July 2023 (IDN) — Nigeria is making news again. At the recent summit of West African heads of state, Nigeria’s newly elected president, Bola Tinubu, was the surprise pick to lead the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)—a key regional body that promotes economic cooperation among member states in order to raise living standards and promote economic development.
After a unanimous endorsement by the 15-member body, Tinubu addressed several controversial issues, among them the number of countries led by unelected leaders. West Africa has witnessed six military coups since 2020, marking a backslide of democracy in a region that previously saw progress in shedding its “coup belt” moniker.
There was also an attempted coup in Guinea-Bissau whose president Umaro Sissoco Embalo passed on the rotational chairmanship of the bloc to Tinubu after the vote.
“On peace and security, the threat has reached an alarming level and needs urgent actions in addressing the challenges. In this regard, we must remain committed to the utilization of all regional frameworks at our disposal to address the menace of insecurity,” Tinubu said in a statement.
While he addresses regional matters, President Tinubu must also contend with challenges to the legitimacy of his own election. Only 25 million votes were cast out of a population of 220 million, or 27% of the total population. Of 87 million Nigerians registered to vote, two thirds failed to do so. Finally, Tinubu himself received only nine million votes—a very small number.
Speaking on the Al Jazeera podcast The Inside Story, Aisha Yesufu of Citizens Hub in Washington, DC, observed: The outcome of the election is not a reflection of the way the people voted. That’s what’s in contention now… There was rigging, there was violence… It was a political coup… That has to stop.”
Last week, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said it had received 215 case files from the Nigerian Police in respect of electoral infractions during the 2023 general elections.
“It was a very contested election,” remarked Ovigwe Eguegu of Afripolitika and there’s still a case in court… We must continue to move forward but there must be justice…It remains to be seen how the President can fulfill his promises.” [IDN-InDepthNews]
Photo: ECOWAS Heads of State and Government hold 63rd ordinary session in Bissau. Source: ECOWAS Website.
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