President Muhammadu Buhari says that in order to address the region’s challenges, all of West Africa’s countries must work together.

On Sunday, he made the announcement in Abuja, while welcoming his colleagues to Nigeria’s 60th session of the Authority Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

“Excellencies and beloved colleagues, the occasion for which we have convened here today is without a doubt a clear proof of our steadfast commitment to the efficient integration of our subregion,” he stated.

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“Our sub-region continues to experience socio-economic, political, security, and environmental fragilities as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic; our democracy in Mali and Guinea is under threat.”

“Additionally, environmental degradation and climate change are impending dangers in our farming system.” We’re up against a gang of criminals, including terrorists.

“All of these challenges necessitate our collective action to address them pragmatically and provide our people with better life prospects. Today’s realities remind us that we must continue to strengthen our bonds of solidarity in order to meet new difficulties, such as the pandemic’s current third wave and its new Omicron variety.”

The Nigerian leader stated that ECOWAS member states must take real steps to improve their people’s wellbeing.

“I am pleased that the Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the West African Health Organization (WAHO) are continuing to collaborate with our respective National Disease Control Centres to lessen the pandemic’s impact on our people and sub-region,” he said.

“At this 60th Ordinary Session, we have several issues of fundamental importance to the Community on the agenda. As a result, I would urge us to carefully analyze the issues before us and make well-informed concrete decisions for the welfare and well-being of our peoples as well as the future of our community.”

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The emergence of the COVID-10 pandemic, according to the Nigerian leader, has wreaked havoc on the region’s socioeconomic activities.

He commended the ECOWAS Chairman for providing the necessary leadership to member states as they work to limit the pandemic’s effects.

“Let me take this opportunity to pay tribute to His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo, Chair of the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government and President of the Republic of Ghana, for the purposeful leadership, commitment, and energy he continues to exert on our behalf in resolving the challenges that face our organization.”

“Despite the enormity of these challenges, our Chair has and continues to lead us well. We owe him a huge debt of gratitude. COVID-19’s challenges, as well as the devastating consequences it has had on our socioeconomic environment, continue to torment us. “The regional resilience, determination, and resolve to work together, in solidarity with one another, greatly aided us in lessening the Pandemic’s burdens,” he said.

President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana, who also spoke, reaffirmed ECOWAS’ commitment to support good governance in West Africa through the preservation of democratic institutions.

“Despite recent events, democracy in our area remains robust, as we saw recently in the presidential and legislative elections in Cape Verde and the Gambia,” he stated.

“I congratulate the people and governments of these two countries on their credible, peaceful, and transparent elections.” Presidents Jose Neves and Adama Barrow have our best wishes for completing their terms.

“However, we continue to face tough transitions in Mali and Guinea, both of which have been suspended from ECOWAS membership.” As you may recall, our most recent extraordinary summit, held in Accra on November 7th, made significant decisions concerning the two countries.

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“In Guinea, we are pleased with President Alpha Conde’s recent release. During this summit, we will have the opportunity to assess the political transition in both countries and determine the next steps to help them return to constitutional order within the agreed-upon timelines,” he said.

President Jose Neves of Cape Verde, who was attending the meeting for the first time, and Gambia’s Adama Barrow, who was recently re-elected, were also congratulated by the ECOWAS Chairman.

Leaders in West Africa, according to Akufo-Addo, will ensure the region’s democracy as well as economic stability and security.

“At our most recent extra-ordinary summit in Accra, we agreed to review the current ECOWAS protocol on democracy and good governance in light of recent developments.”

“We had fruitful discussions on this important matter yesterday at an informal forum,” the ECOWAS Chairman added, “and we will continue our reflections on all those issues that will influence peace and stability in our region.”

He thanked his colleagues for their support when Ghana ran for and won a seat on the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member.

The ECOWAS Chairman, who also used the occasion to call for continued troop mobilization for peacekeeping in fragile areas, stated that everything is being done to restore democratic governance in Mali and Guinea, where undemocratic power transitions occurred.

Antonio Guterres, speaking through his Special Representative for West Africa and the Sahel, Annadif Saleh, vowed further support for ECOWAS and called for greater cooperation among member states in his goodwill message.

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Guterres complimented Cape Verde and the Gambia for holding peaceful Presidential elections recently.

Similarly, the African Union sent a goodwill letter through Nigeria’s Bankole Adeoye, its Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, in which he praised ECOWAS for preserving democracy in West Africa.

The African Union promised to continue to work closely with ECOWAS to promote good governance in the region.

Heads of state and government from all member states, as well as former Nigerian leader and ECOWAS Special Envoy and Mediator to Mali, Goodluck Jonathan, and President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean Kassi Brou, are among those attending the two-day summit.

Prizes were also given to the recipients of the ECOWAS Excellence Awards, which were granted to those who excelled in various professions.

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