ECOWAS Leaders Commit To Integration As 55th Heads Of State Ordinary Session Opens
The 55th Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) opens today, 29th June 2019 in Abuja, Nigeria.
The Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government and the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari in his welcome address highlighted the commitment of the West African leaders to consolidating the integration of the Region.
“The fact that we have reconvened today, to discuss developments in our sub-region, bears testimony to our sustained commitment to the consolidation of our integration as a Community. I commend the giant strides made by ECOWAS in this regard”, he said.
President Buhari also commended the collective and individual efforts of Member States towards the promotion of good governance, peace, stability and socio-economic development of the sub-region. He stressed that they must remain focussed on their collective efforts in making the sub-region an area of peace and security.
He added that despite the overall appreciable progress the Member States have made, particularly in the field of political governance, the sub-region continues to face considerable security challenges.
“We are all witness to the recurring incidents of inter-communal clashes, herders-farmers conflicts, banditry and terrorists attacks in all our countries”, he said.
This unrest, according to President Buhari undermines all efforts in achieving full regional integration. He therefore called on other Heads of State to in the interest of regional stability and the peoples as well as their livelihoods, to act collectively in order to end the menace by adopting a common strategy both at National and Regional levels.
While delivering his address, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, the President of the ECOWAS Commission said the region is consolidating democracy through the conduct of peaceful elections, in conformity with the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance.
President Brou added that as ECOWAS turned 44 on the 28th of May 2019, its accomplishments are now recognised at continental and global levels. These achievements, he said, were possible through the efforts of our founding fathers and their successors, as well as the current leaders who have spared no effort to “uphold and nurture this priceless legacy”.
Also speaking at the opening, Mohammed Ibn Chambas, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), urged the ECOWAS Heads of State to pay attention to enhancing quantitative and qualitative participation of the youths, women and persons living with disabilities in elective and decision-making positions. This, he said, will make the growing democracies more inclusive and meaningful.
Part of the opening ceremony was the presentation of the maiden ECOWAS Excellence Awards. The 2018 ECOWAS Excellence Honorary Award for Deserving Citizen of the Community was presented posthumously to Dr. Ameyo Adadevoh from Nigeria, for her sacrifice and selflessness to the Community, during the outbreak of the Ebola Virus.
Dr. Kofi Annan from Ghana was presented posthumously with the 2018 ECOWAS Excellence Honorary Award for Distinguished Personalities, for his immense contribution to the objectives of ECOWAS in the area of Security, Peace and Socio-economic Development.
In addition, the 2018 ECOWAS Excellence Honorary Award for Arts and Letters was presented to Madame Germaine Agony from Senegal, for the quality and richness of her artistic production, recognised in several ECOWAS Countries.
The Heads of State and Government will be reviewing the security situation in the region, among others during the Summit.