President Muhammadu Buhari, Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of States and Government, at the opening of the 55th ordinary session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government in Abuja, Nigeria, on Saturday, emphasized the imperatives for heads of government of ECOWAS member states to form a strong coalition against terrorists, bandits and other violent crime perpetrators in the West African sub-region.
President Buhari in his opening speech expressed great pleasure in welcoming the participants to Abuja on behalf of the Government and People of Nigeria on the occasion of the 55th Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
He reiterated his deep appreciation to the heads of state and government for the confidence placed on him to lead the West African sub-regional organization as Chairman of the Authority in the last one year. He thanked them for the valuable support extended to him throughout the period.
President Buhari remarked that West African leaders are delighted with the ECOWAS platform provided to hold regular consultations; adding “We also note with satisfaction the effective functioning of our Institutions which further bind us together as member states.”
The Nigerian President stated that the fact that they have reconvened to discuss developments in the sub-region, bears testimony to the leaders sustained commitment to the consolidation of the integration of West Africa as a Community. He acknowledged and commended the giant strides made by ECOWAS in this regard.
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President Buhari further commended individual and collective efforts of member states towards the promotion of good governance, peace, stability and socio-economic development in the sub-region.
“We must remain focused on our collective endeavour to make the sub-region an area of peace and security.
“This is an essential prerequisite if we are to attain the primary objective of our organization which is, to “promote cooperation and integration, leading to the establishment of an economic and monetary union in West Africa, in order to raise the living standards of its people and contribute to the progress and development of the African continent,” Buhari declared.
The ECOWAS Chairman, however, decried that despite the overall appreciable progress they have made, particularly, in the field of political governance, the sub-region continues to face considerable security challenges.
“We are all witnesses to the recurring incidence of inter-communal clashes, herders-farmers conflicts, banditry and terrorist attacks in all our countries.
“These threats, you will agree with me, have consequences on the peaceful co-existence between our communities and peoples as well as their livelihoods.
“This unrest also undermines all our efforts in achieving full regional integration. It is, therefore, necessary that we act collectively to end this menace in the interest of regional stability and wellbeing of our people,” the ECOWAS Chairman declared.
The President, on behalf of all ECOWAS leaders offered “sincere sympathies and condolences to the families of the victims of terrorist attacks, banditry and inter-communal clashes perpetrated by some misguided elements in our societies;” saying: “We shall not relent in our efforts to protect our peace loving people and their properties, while vigorously sustaining the war against terrorism and criminality.”
The ECOWAS Chairman further declared: “Taking into account the transnational nature of the threats confronting us, the need for the adoption of a common strategy at the national and regional level to combat them, has become imperative. By so doing, we will reinforce our actions and resources for a more effective response to protect our citizens and secure our common space.
“While I acknowledge that several initiatives and measures have been taken in our respective countries, recent developments have shown that we must cooperate more effectively to achieve our goals.
“We should send a strong and unified message to the perpetrators of violence that we are resolute in our collective determination to confront and defeat them.”
He renewed the Community’s gratitude to all the leaders who have skillfully conducted the political mediation missions entrusted to them.
President Buhari, thereafter, said that as they strive to create secure, stable and prosperous environment in West Africa, they must also intensify efforts to ensure sustainable economic and social development in the sub-region. “By doing so, we will be able to tackle poverty and youth unemployment and contribute to our sustained stability,” he added.
The ECOWAS Chairman noted that several issues relating to different policies, programmes and projects are itemized for discussion during the meeting. “As is our custom, the 55th ordinary session will also consider these matters from the reports on today’s agenda.
“Considering the high level of interest you all attach to regional cooperation and integration, I am confident that our Summit will witness robust discussions and produce sound decisions.
“Let me at this point, take this opportunity to renew, once again, our sincere appreciation to the African Union, the United Nations and all our bilateral and multilateral partners for their sustained cooperation and assistance. We value their partnership,” he said.
Buhari, therefore, declare open the 55th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government; wishing participants fruitful deliberations.
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