ECOWAS: African leaders worship dictators, By Emeka Onwubiko

Posted by News Express | 25 August 2018 | 1,403 times

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•ECOWAS Chairman, President Muhammadu Buhari

West African leaders under the aegis of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have chosen President Muhammadu Buhari - an ex-military dictator and a strong supporter of the Fulani herdsmen, a vicious killing gang - to be their leader. This is not the first time African leaders have chosen a brutal dictator whose tenure is notorious for mass-killing, corruption and all sorts of human rights abuses to lead them.  In 2009, the African Union elected the stylish Libyan strongman, Muamar Gaddafi to chair the group. In the same vein, in 2011, the African Union elected then President Teodoro Obiang of Equatorial Guinea, who was also a notorious dictator of over 31 years, to chair the African Union.

Buhari took over the chairmanship role from Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe, at the end of the 53rd ordinary summit of ECOWAS Heads of State, which ended on Monday, July 30, 2018. Traditionally, the leadership of ECOWAS is on a rotational basis. However, in 2005, the African Union made an exception to this similar leadership rotation when it was the turn of Sudanese dictator, Omar al-Bashir - who was at the centre of killings in Darfur - to be the chairman. Therefore, he was bypassed; and they kept President Olusegun Obasanjo, the incumbent chairman, for the second year. However, ECOWAS has thrown decency to the wind, by electing a failed leader like President Buhari.

Mr Buhari has engaged in several coup plots, dating back from 1966, 1975, and in 1983 when he unseated the democratically-elected President Shehu Shagari’s administration and he ruled Nigeria with impunity until he was removed by another military dictator, Ibrahim Babaginda via a coup d'état in 1985. In 2015, Mr Buhari, again, returned to power after so many failed attempts; this time through the ballot, when he defeated the sitting president, Goodluck Johnathan, in a contentious election that Buhari was quoted to have threatened bloodbath, if the election is “rigged”, in other words, if he is defeated. To avert Nigeria’s implosion and the widespread violence and bloodshed which Buhari had threatened, Mr Jonathan conceded defeat to him, a move that people all over the world praised.  

But, instead of President Buhari to be a reformist and a democrat, he immediately swung into action and retired all the serving security chiefs and appointed his Fulani/Muslim kinsmen. As a result, security of life has become a nightmare; Police and military officers have assumed full-scale extra-judicial killings. The Islamic Boko Haram terrorists that his regime lied to the world that have been “technically defeated” continued their onslaught on innocent Nigerians.

He brought Nigeria to its knees through many of his poor economic policies that quickly led the country into a prolonged recession. Life for the average citizen has become harsher. The population has no functional running water and electricity, and the majority of Nigerians live on less than a dollar a day. Yet, President Buhari diverts Nigeria’s resources for maintaining his personal health-care facility, as he flies in and out of the United Kingdom for treatment of an undisclosed ailment. He has made himself, his family and some cronies fabulously wealthy while citizens of the oil-rich Nigeria struggle in abject poverty. Recall, Buhari, a former military leader, took office on a mantra of “change”, in addition to the promise of tackling corruption and insecurity in the North-east region of the country. But, today, Nigeria is currently ranked 148th out of 180 countries in the 2017 Corruption Perception Index by Transparency International.

Although the international media and other world powers have been less-concerned about Nigerian issues, compounded by US President Donald Trump ‘s “American first” policy. However, civil society organisations and rights groups - such as Amnesty International and other human rights groups - have accused President Buhari of violating the very rights that the ECOWAS is committed to upholding. 

Buhari has been a poster child of religious and ethnic chauvinism in Nigeria. Two incidents early in his tenure tend to confirm he has not changed. First, his apparent silence and later provocative statement on the intentional religious killing, in Kano, when a 74-year-old Christian - Mrs Bridget Abahime, an ethnic Igbo trader and wife of a pastor - was beheaded for allegedly “blaspheming Prophet Muhamad.” Second, when another Christian, Mrs Eunice Olawale, who was hatched down on the street of Abuja while she was preaching.

Buhari has also demonstrated his dislike for democratic ideals, especially his constant disobedience to court orders when people that he sees as sworn enemies were granted bail. People like Col Sambo Dasuki (retd), Nnamdi Kanu, Sheik El Zakzaky, among others. He clamps down on groups and peoples he hates. His soldiers killed several Shia members and tortured their leader Zakzaky, who is still held in a prison. His soldiers also brutally killed various unarmed members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), whose crime was seeking peaceful self-determination from Nigeria through a referendum.

Next, Buhari blacklisted IPOB as a terrorist group, an action United States vehemently rejects. While Buhari was quick to ban IPOB, he is deaf to various agitations against killings orchestrated by these dastardly Fulani herdsmen. Remember, long before he took up leadership of the Nigerian state as an elected president, he has always been a self-confessed Fulani herdsman and a strong backer of the killer-group. This is a clear attestation that Fulani herdsmen are mercenaries that Buhari and his other jihadist-elite use to decimate - not only farmers, as the global media parades – but many Christians in the rural communities nationwide.

President Buhari’s election as ECOWAS leader shows that some of us who believe in Africa are still day-dreaming about democracy. It goes further to confirm that  Africa’s democratic gains are being reversed, a trend that I don’t know when it would end, sad.

•Emeka Onwubiko, an IPOB member, writes from The University of Adelaide Law School, Australia, and can be reached via

Source: News Express

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