By Bakary Ceesay
The 56th Ordinary Session of the Authority of the Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) opened on the 21st December 2019, at the Banquet Hall, State House, Abuja, Nigeria.
Among others, the ECOWAS Leaders are deliberating on the prevailing social, economic and political issues affecting the region, including emerging security threats, the action plan for regional security as well as its financing mechanism.
Welcoming his brothers Heads of State to the summit, the Nigerian President H.E Muhammadu Buhari stressed the need to collectively fight insecurity, violent extremism and terrorism while restating Nigeria’s commitment to regional integration.
The President of the ECOWAS Commission H.E Jean-Claude Kassi Brou in his remarks, noted that he was looking forward to a rewarding review of the issues of security, regional economic development and democratic consolidation.
In his opening remarks, H.E Mahamadou Issoufou, the President of the Republic of Niger and Chair of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government commended the efforts of Member States in strengthening democracy while noting that significant progress has been made in achieving a convergence criteria towards the birth of a single currency for the region.
He stressed the need to ensure that the achievements being recorded on all fronts are not compromised by threats to regional security.
The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas called for greater solidarity by ECOWAS Member States in confronting the identified challenges.
He stressed the need to band together and join hands to defeat terrorism by complementing the military and security efforts with developmental approaches in order for the security challenges to be met holistically.
Also speaking at the opening, the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Dr. Akinwumi Adesina affirmed his delight with the partnership between the AfDB and ECOWAS Commission. He reeled out multiple statistics which highlighted the Bank’s commitment to the strengthening regional integration as well as the economic development of states across the continent particularly in the areas of energy, infrastructure, agriculture healthcare and climate change interventions among others.
Apart from the President’s Annual Report on the state of the community, the leaders will also be considering the reports of the Mediation and Security Council, those of the Council of Ministers, special reports on the single currency, action plan for regional security as well as on the political situation and the presidential election in Guinea Bissau by the Chair of Council.
The one-Day summit is being attended by the President of the Commission of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), Heads of Diplomatic Missions and International Organizations, ECOWAS’ Statutory Appointees as well as a founding father of ECOWAS and former Nigerian head of states Gen Yakubu Gowon.
A minute silent was observed for victims of recent terrorists’ attacks in the region.