The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Council of Ministers has listed reviewing thematic issues concerning the region with a bid to proffering solutions as one of the focus of its 87th Ordinary Session.
The Nigerian Minister of States for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zunairu Dada, made this known in Abuja at the opening of its 87th Ordinary Session in Abuja, Nigeria’s Capital.
Ambassador Dada said that the Council of Ministers meeting remains a very important platform to discuss and review thematic issues in the region to advise ECOWAS Heads of State and Governments as appropriate.
“Indeed this year’s agenda is a testament to the commitment of ECOWAS and its institutions, as well as members in the development of our region in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“At this august gathering, we will consider as we did in the past several issues affecting critical areas of the community through reports and memoranda that have been placed on our agenda.
“This meeting is also expected to adopt guidelines, protocols and revised draft supplementary act on the community levy, Customs Union, among other critical issues.
“I, therefore, urge this council to discuss the issues with an open mind in order to find solutions to the numerous challenges that are bedevilling our region.
“Especially the new wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, humanitarian services, climate change and youth unemployment.
“The interest of the citizens of our community is paramount, so we must be seen to articulate positions that will advance the achievement of economic intervention and development in our region,” Dada said.
Ambassador Dada urged the management of ECOWAS to continue to work towards the implementation of policies, guidelines, projects and programmes that are meant to improve the effectiveness of the organization.
He also admonished institutions of ECOWAS on prudent management of community resources to achieve the fundamental objectives of our regional body.
The Chairperson, ECOWAS Council of Ministers, Mrs.
Shirley Botchwey, also urged ECOWAS member states urged to build resilience against terrorism, health crisis, climate change to advance regional integration in the West African sub-region.
Mrs Botchwey who is also Ghana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration said 2021 has been particularly busy at the regional level, with several Extraordinary Councils of Ministers and Summits.
This she explained was an indication that the region is faced with challenges that all organs and institutions of the community are working assiduously, with concerted efforts to address.
“In order to advance our regional integration agenda and transform the lives of Community citizens, we need to continue to build resilience and enhance our integration programme.
“This is particularly necessary with respect to the following threats: The health crisis of the Coronavirus which persists and has completely changed our way of life.
“With the new variant and the risk of a new wave and several countries closing their borders, we must rely more than ever on our regional solidarity.
“The recurrence of terrorist attacks in the frontline countries of the Sahel (Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Nigeria) with its many victims.
“And to which the response at this time is the diligent implementation of our plan of action against terrorism to support and complement national efforts,” she explained.
Mrs Botchwey further said by working together on all the issues confronting the region, the prospects for success are significantly enhanced and would create the conditions for a thriving region.
On the political situation in the region, Mrs Botchwey said the ECOWAS region has recorded significant achievements in the area of democracy and governance.
She also said the recent elections in Cabo Verde and The Gambia, after those of Niger and Benin, were examples of the dynamism of the region’s democracy.
Mrs Botchwey however said the breaches in constitutional order in Guinea and Mali have undermined the progress of the region and pose significant risks.
“In this regard, the Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS have taken very strong measures to ensure the restoration of constitutional order in those countries,” Botchwey said.
President of the ECOWAS Commission Dr Jean-Claude Brou said ECOWAS will continue to work towards the betterment of the region for community citizens.
Dr Brou however lamented the insecurity, the new strain of the Omicron COVID-19 variant and political instability in some member states.
The 87th Ordinary Session of the Council of Ministers of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) which is holding from 9th to 10th December 2021, is in preparation for the 60th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, scheduled for December 12, 2021.
ECOWAS Council of Ministers to review regional challenges