Tinubu Calls for Stronger Regional Teamwork to Boost African Democracy and Economic Growth

By Joke Kujenya

PRESIDENT BOLA Ahmed Tinubu has reiterated the necessity of fortifying regional economic communities to enhance integration and trade relations among African nations, viewing these as pivotal to deepening democracy and spurring development across the continent.

Addressing the Summit on the State of Democracy in Africa in Abuja on Wednesday, President Tinubu emphasized that Nigeria’s challenging experiences have highlighted that the remedy for poor democratic governance lies in increasing democratic practices.

Represented by Vice President Kashim Shettima, Tinubu stressed the need to rejuvenate sub-regional organizations like the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), East African Community (EAC), and Southern African Development Community (SADC).

These bodies, he argued, are crucial for promoting robust intra-African commerce, economic growth, and job creation.

“The full potential of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) can only be realized with concrete economic integration and collaboration at various sub-regional levels,” stated Tinubu in his keynote address, urging these regional entities to focus on reducing trade barriers, fostering sustainable and inclusive economic growth, developing human capital, and adding value to agriculture and agro-allied sectors.

Tinubu also called for deliberate strategies to enhance intra-African trade, improve food and energy security, boost youth employment, alleviate poverty, and achieve greater prosperity and emphasized that enhanced sub-regional cooperation is essential for the successful implementation of AfCFTA, particularly in harmonizing regulations to facilitate the free movement of goods, services, and people.

Despite recent setbacks due to military coups, Tinubu expressed optimism about the successful elections in Liberia, Kenya, Ghana, and Nigeria.

He voiced concern over the military coups in Mali, Guinea Conakry, Burkina Faso, Niger Republic, and Gabon, underscoring the need for regional blocs to establish well-funded standby military forces to curb military adventurism, terrorism, and religious extremism.

President Tinubu urged African leaders to respect constitutional limits, ensure credible elections, and maintain autonomous institutions through the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) and called for the summit to explore ways to make the APRM more effective in promoting good governance and democratic consolidation on the continent.

Declaring that Africa must transcend its status as the “doormat of the world with street beggar economies,” Tinubu advocated for concrete measures to boost trade, enhance security, and entrench constitutional democracy through revitalized regional bodies.

Former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, highlighted the need to re-examine the democratic models inherited from colonial powers.

He stressed that African leaders must devise a contextual form of democracy that reflects Africa’s rich cultural heritage and addresses contemporary challenges through good leadership, strong institutions, and a stable middle class.

UN Deputy Secretary-General and Chair of the SDGs, Dr. Amina Mohammed, emphasized the importance of women and youth participation in politics and decision-making processes to strengthen democracy. She called for effective law implementation, accountability, and investment in democratic institutions as crucial to sustaining democracy in Africa and beyond.

Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN), former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, noted that the summit’s focus aligns with the Shehu Musa Yar’adua Foundation’s mission to scrutinize and reshape the democratic model in Africa in light of current challenges.

Other notable attendees included the President of the Ford Foundation, Darren Walker; Executive Director of Trust Africa, Dr. Ebrima Sall; and Co-Founder of Afrobarometer, Prof. Gyimah Boadi.

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