Leaders in West Africa “must use political power” for Good Governance: RECOWA President

Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama addressing participants during the plenary assembly of the Regional Episcopal Conference of West Africa (RECOWA). Credit: CSN

The President of the Regional Episcopal Conference of West Africa (RECOWA), the common forum of the Catholic Bishops from 16 West African countries, has called on political leaders in the African region to use their authority to foster good governance, and for the “common good”.

RECOWA comprises 154 Catholic Dioceses spread across 11 Catholic Bishops’ Conferences in 16 countries of Anglophone and Francophone Africa. The 16 countries include Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Guinee, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Mauritania, Cape Verde, Guinee Bissau, and Togo.

In his opening remarks at the fourth RECOWA Plenary Assembly that officially opened on Tuesday, May 3 in Nigeria’s Abuja Archdiocese,  Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama said politics in West African nations is no longer about service based on justice, charity, truth and transparency.

Archbishop Kaigama said that the region is battling with terrorism, religious and ethnic crises, climate change, among other issues. 

“Leaders of the region must use political power to create good governance rather than for personal advancement or allow religious, ethnic, economic or political interests to subordinate the common good,” RECOWA President said in his speech at the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament in the capital city of Nigeria, Abuja.


The Local Ordinary of Abuja who has been at the helm of RECOWA since 2016 said that political leaders in West Africa “must enthrone merit, share resources equitably, and do away with the virus of corruption and self-centeredness.”

He called upon religious leaders in the 16 countries of RECOWA to facilitate the practice of “true religion by improving the quality of our spiritual lives which must manifest in good deeds such as the care of orphans, widows, the poor and marginalized, youths and not focusing on quick prosperity and miracles."

Religious leaders in the countries of RECOWA, the Nigerian Catholic Bishop said, should not “succumb to the temptation of agitating for the appointment of Priests and Bishops based on ethnic considerations."

“Without becoming politically partisan, our prophetic voices must continue to ring out on behalf of the voiceless multitude suffering. We do not pretend that we have the solutions to the multidimensional political, security and social problems,” Archbishop Kaigama said May 3. 

The Church “can only continue to play her role in educating the consciences of Christians, non-Christians and people of good will in our society,” he said.

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The President of RECOWA added that Christian and Muslim leaders “must go beyond courteous formalities to employ practical measures to foster Muslim/Christian dialogue instead of media confrontation, or even mutual physical hostility.” 

"We must look out for the interest of one another,” he said during the official opening of the fourth Plenary Assembly of RECOWA being held under the theme, “Fratelli Tutti: Path to build brotherhood and sustainable peace in West Africa”.

Delegates taking part in the May 2-9 RECOWA Plenary Assembly are expected to deliberate on Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter on human fraternity, and social friendship, Fratelli Tutti, and challenges facing the region in view of strategizing for “sustainable peace”.

Reflecting on the theme of the Plenary Assembly of RECOWA, the Nigerian Archbishop said humanity is called to convert “our actions for a true fraternity and a sincere peace.”

He said the theme of the fourth RECOWA Plenary Assembly is an invitation for humanity to rebuild fraternal relationships, rethink, find or rebuild the "WE”. 


The theme of the Plenary Assembly invites leaders “to see governance in terms of service and for all of us to be conscious of the question posed to Cain in Genesis 4:9, ‘where is your brother?’” Archbishop Kaigama further said. 

“We are hopeful that the results of our reflections, workshops and discussions will have a great impact on us and our people. We, as the chief Shepherds, are committed to ensuring exemplary leadership and striving to ‘smell like the sheep’ we are pasturing,” the 63-year-old Catholic Archbishop said May 3.

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.