The Economic Community of West African States(ECOWAS) has said it is set to implement the regional action plan to defeat terrorism and achieve economic prosperity to improve the livelihoods of people in the community.
The President of ECOWAS Commission, Omar Alieu Touray in his speech at the opening ceremony of the 89th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers in Abuja said the task of ensuring that the programmes and projects of ECOWAS are redesigned to ensure a higher impact on the lives of the Community citizens and also foster close cooperation among member states and economic integration of the sub-region.
“To succeed in this, we have to work on improving partnerships and coordination with our Member States, development partners and civil society”.
Touray also disclosed that while working on repositioning the Community institutions, the commission also has the task of continuing with efforts to restore constitutionalism in Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea and to halt the reversals of democracy in the region through instituting a stronger regime against all forms of anti-constitutional changes of government.
“On the other hand, we have terrorism and violent extremism that persists in our region and threaten to spread from the Sahel to the coastal states.
“ECOWAS is required to pool together different initiatives in the sub-region and coordinate the effective implementation of its regional action plan against terrorism”.
Speaking further, Touray stressed that those factors in the Community which is the socio-economic impact of the War in Ukraine have come home to the region in the form of energy and food price and inflation in the Member States.
“More than ever before, our region requires solidarity and close coordination of efforts to succeed in overcoming the challenges and forging a future of prosperity for all.
“It is in view of this diagnosis of the state of our Community that we identified four strategic objectives that would be the focus of our Management in the next four years.
“We call this the Commissions 4 by 4 (4 x 4) comprising specific deliverables or results to be realised within our mandate”.
Touray explained that: “the first objective is Enhanced Peace and Security, where we intend to fully implement the ECOWAS Action Plan against Terrorism, fully operationalise the ECOWAS Maritime Security Architecture, fully operationalise the National Early Warning and Response Centres and build synergy with the ECOWAS Early Warning and Response Mechanism, and continuously build ECOWAS mediation and response capacity”.
“The second objective is to Deepen Regional Integration, and here we intend to invest time and resources in reducing tariff and non-tariff barriers in our Community and improve the business environment for our private sector, fully operationalise the regional payment system to reduce the difficulty of transactions in local currencies and over-reliance on international currencies (the US dollars/euros); we also intend to introduce ECOWAS VISA, at the first instance for diplomatic and service passports”.
He said the third strategic objective is Good Governance, including good corporate governance to build confidence in our private sector.
“We will be focusing on building a stronger regime against anti-constitutional changes of government and supporting our Member States to deepen democracy”.
“Our target here includes completing the democratic transitions in Burkina Faso, Guinea and Mali and strengthening both ECOWAS Court and ECOWAS Parliament to play their respective roles in improving governance in our region”.
“The fourth objective is Inclusive and Sustainable Development. We intend to increase our commitment to food security, regional highway development, energy access, disaster response, gender mainstreaming, and climate action”.
Touray also disclosed that besides these four strategic objectives, the commission has identified two enablers, which are capable institutions and equitable partnerships.
“Under these capable institution’s initiative, we intend to look at our processes and our human and financial resources with respect to partnerships”.
“For the first time, ECOWAS presented a three-year budget, based on Medium Term Expenditure Framework – MTEF, in compliance with our new Financial Regulations”.
“Planning is now a priority, as we begin the implementation of programmes aimed at realising the ECOWAS Vision 2050”.
“The Community Strategic Framework has already been developed and the budget presented to the Admin and Finance Committee is aimed at its realisation,” he added.
The Senior Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Communities of the Republic of Guinea Bissau and Chair of ECOWAS Council of Ministers, Suzi Carla Barbosa testified that the regional community have witnessed the regressive effects of the covid19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine-Russia, through food crisis and scarcity of other products that constitute essential goods for the populations.
Barbosa further disclosed that “the sub-region has been troubled by human insecurity and violent extremism, and more recently by new waves of coups d’état, guided by uncertain compromises, which represents elements of the fragility of some member states in implementing mechanisms that guarantee the sustainability of the values of democracy and good governance.
“As a consequence, we are witnessing increasing situations of human poverty and vulnerabilities such as climate change, irregular rainfall, waves of internal displacement, forced migration, and communities kidnapped by armed bandits, among others.”
Barbosa however said in response to the challenges for better economic cooperation and regional integration, several initiatives have been put into practice at the level of each member state, but also at the level of ECOWAS institutions, coordinated by the Commission.
“I would like to highlight the importance of the 89th Session of the Council of Ministers, which coincides with an important moment for the implementation of reforms that can guarantee efficient functioning and the effective use of the scarce resources available.
“In this way, we are invited to look at various projects, through various presentations of reports, and to assume the responsibility of agreeing on them the necessary guidelines in favour of the challenges we face – from the financial situation and fulfilment of our obligations, through managing our resources and implementing infrastructure projects that catalyze economic growth and consequent human development,” she reiterated.
Similarly, the Nigerian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Amb. Zubairu Dada, the ordinary session of the council of ministers maintained that the Ordinary session of the council of ministers remains a veritable platform for reviewing the programmes of ECOWAS, brainstorming on, thematic issues of the region, and providing substantive advice to the Heads of State and Government on the best way to advance regional collective aspiration of achieving ECOWAS of the people.
According to Dada: “this year’s agenda is robust, which is a testament to the commitment of ECOWAS Institutions and Member States to the integration and developmental goals of our sub-region.
“As an assembly of stakeholders with a collective responsibility of deciding on matters relating to integration and development in our region, it behoves us to discuss all items on our agenda with an open mind in order to find solutions to the numerous challenges threatening our region, including the new wave of food insecurity and persistent obstacle to free trade, particularly on the Lagos—Abidjan corridor.
“The interest of the citizens of our community must be paramount and we avail ourselves of the opportunity presented by this meeting to articulate positions that will advance the achievement of sustainable economic integration and development for our region.”
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