Nigeria Marks ECOWAS at 40

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Ouegraogo making statement

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Nigeria and ECOWAS officials celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Economic Community of West African States in Abuja, last week

THE abolition of Visas among ECOWAS member-states, right of residence and establishment, construction of regional roads, as well as the maintenance of Peace and Regional Security have been highlighted as some of the significant achievement of the regional body.

Kadré Désiré Ouédraogo, president of the ECOWAS Commission, who made the disclosure at the 40th anniversary commemoration event of the organisation recently also said the region is closer than ever before towards the realisation of its vision of an ECOWAS of the people rather than of states.

The elaborate event, which was at the instance of the ministry of foreign affairs of Nigeria afforded a rare opportunity for some of the founding fathers of ECOWAS, diplomats and international bureaucrats to ventilate on the ECOWAS project and point at the way forward.

Speaking on the theme: Nigeria, ECOWAS: Celebrating the Economics of Unity President Ouédraogo noted that despite initial challenges, the highlighted achievements were in furtherance of the desire to engender a borderless, peaceful and cohesive region built on good governance where citizens would have the capacity to create opportunities for sustainable development.

ECOWAS, he said, experienced its own share of political crises which led the organisation to intervene in other to restore peace and stability. Especially in Liberia and Sierra Leone, where ECOWAS Monitoring Group, ECOMOG, played a commendable role in bringing about the needed stability.

According to President Ouédraogo, ECOWAS is highly impressed by the role which the out-going president of Nigeria Goodluck Ebele Jonathan played in the restoration of peace after the political crises in Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Guinea Bissau and Burkina Faso, respectively, and the significant intervention during the recent Ebola outbreak. He said that Nigeria did not only get rid of the virus but also helped other West African countries by sending teams of volunteers.

Ouedraogo and Nigerian VIPs celebrate ECOWAS at 40Also, General Yakubu Gowon, former Head of State, Federal Republic of Nigeria and a founding father of ECOWAS attributed the successful formation of the ECOWAS to all the West African Heads of State and Government who appended their signatures to the Treaty of Lagos on May 28, 1975.

The elder Statesman, who was the chairman of the event, said the cooperation received from other West African Leaders determined to foster the economic well-being of their citizens despite challenges of differences in ideology and language was instrumental in building ECOWAS as successful regional integration.

On his part, Ambassador Aminu Wali, Nigerian minister of foreign affairs, stressed that ECOWAS has been transformed from a community of peoples coming out to integrate themselves into a community of economy and peoples rather than being just an inter-governmental organisation. Wali said that ECOWAS has been a pace-setter in the integration agenda of the African Continent.

Delivering a Keynote address entitled: ECOWAS at 40: The Driving Philosophy of Multinationalism, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, former Nigerian minister of foreign affairs, said ECOWAS “institutionalised and concretised the integrationist tendencies in West Africa”. He stressed that ECOWAS will lead to a West African Union if it responds to external stimulus of a cataclysmic proportion.

In his welcome address, Senator Musliu Obanikoro, minister of state II for Foreign Affairs said ECOWAS citizens have a cause to celebrate the achievements of ECOWAS at 40, which he said, was the reason, the federal ministry of foreign affairs, organised the event.

The event, was attended by ambassadors of ECOWAS members states in Abuja, other diplomats and top government and military officials.

Merit awards were presented Yakubu Gowon, former Head of State of Nigeria and Ernest Shonekan, former Head of Nigeria’s Interim Government.

—  Jun 8, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT

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