President Muhammadu Buhari has asked leaders of countries in West Africa to take realistic decisions that will affect the lives of their citizens positively.
In a statement by his media aide, Garba Shehu, President Buhari said this in his address at the 59th Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), held in Accra, Ghana, on Saturday.
Speaking on the political turmoil in Mali, Buhari said the situation in Mali could take a turn for the worse if not properly handled.
He said: ”At this summit today, we are expected to review a number of important reports dealing with various issues of concern to our organisation and people. In doing so, we must take realistic and practical decisions which will positively impact our citizens.
“Some of those decisions necessarily will have to do with evolving political and security situations in our sub-region as well as evaluate the health of our organisation with the hope of repositioning to serve our people and sub-region better.
“While democracy continues to develop in our sub-region, recent events in Mali are sad reminders that vigilance remains a crucial imperative to protect people’s aspirations to freely choose the form of Government they want.
“Pressures are needed to ensure that the transition process in Mali, which is half-way to its conclusion, is not aborted. A further slide in Mali could prove catastrophic to the Sub-region, considering that about half of that country is unfortunately under the grip of terrorists.
“I urge our organisation to remain engaged with all stakeholders in Mali through our astute Mediator, former President Goodluck Jonathan, who, I congratulate warmly, for his untiring efforts thus far. I encourage him to sustain these efforts to ensure that the transition is completed as scheduled.”
Speaking on the effects of COVID-19 on the sub-region, Buhari called for more efforts to ensure that West African countries prevent a spike in infections and deaths.
“The region has experienced two waves of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the second wave being more prevalent with higher death rates.
“Although we appear to have come out of the second wave, there is a very strong possibility that we may experience a third wave similar to what is going on in other parts of the world, particularly as vaccination levels are still very low.
“It is therefore critical to maintain vigilance and deploy smart non-pharmaceutical public health measures as necessary,” he said.