Osinbajo sets agenda for new ECOWAS leader

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, on Sunday in Accra, said the advent of the Russia-Ukraine conflict as well as other economic challenges in West Africa, harder work is expected of the new leadership of the Economic Community of West African States chaired by Guinea-Bissau President, Sissoco Embaló.

According to a statement signed on Monday by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, Osinbajo stated this while speaking with journalists at the end of the 61st Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS held in Accra, Ghana.

The statement was titled ‘Expectations high for new ECOWAS leadership, says Osinbajo as the regional body commends Nigeria’s contributions.’

According to him, there are high expectations regarding the output of the body and its leaders must work harder to resolve lingering issues in the region.

Speaking of the immediate past chairman and Ghanaian leader, he said, “President Nana Akufo-Addo did an excellent job in a very challenging period in the history of ECOWAS and many of the challenges remain. So, we expect that the new leadership will take over and work as hard and perhaps much harder to resolve some of the issues.

“There are even additional challenges today—economic challenges, especially with the Russian-Ukraine crisis, and economic problems. Other issues are the coups that have taken place in the region in the past couple of years and we are still trying to resolve some of those issues.

“The new leadership under President Sissoco Embaló must step up efforts and address those very many responsibilities that the region faces today.”

Osinbajo, however, also added that besides the challenges, the region is witnessing appreciable progress in the ECOWAS common currency policy, noting that there are things “we should be happy about.

“There is progress being made along the Lagos-Abidjan corridor, especially on the issues of the movement of goods and services on that corridor. These are some of the very important decisions that were taken and I think progress is being made.”

At the opening session of the summit chaired by President Akufo-Addo, the efforts and commitment of Nigeria under the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), in containing the COVID-19 pandemic and in addressing other challenges across the region were appreciated by the Authority of the Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS.

Acknowledging Nigeria’s contributions, President Akufo-Addo said, “Let me address on behalf of all of us, our thanks to our esteemed colleague, His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who in his capacity as champion in the coordination of the fight against the COVID-19, has spared no effort in this endeavour.”

He also recognised the country’s leadership role in addressing other challenges across the region, especially the menace of coups, terrorism, and deteriorating humanitarian situations.

“Indeed, following the failed coup d’etat of February 1, 2022 in Guinea Bissau and our emergency summit of February 3, 2022, we decided to deploy an ECOWAS Standby Force to support the stability of the country and President Sissoco Embalo’s elected government.

“That deployment of 609 security personnel, comprised of 150 Nigerian troops and 140 Nigerian police personnel, 150 Senegalese troops, 100 Ghanaian troops and 59 troops from Cote d’Ivoire, with a force headquarters of 80 officers drawn from across the region, under the overall command of a Nigerian general and force commander has now been completed,” he said.

Among decisions reached at the end of the meeting was the lifting of financial and economic sanctions against Mali with the expectations for improved progress in the country’s transition to democratic rule.

A newly composed ECOWAS Commission is also in place with the emergence of Gambia’s Omar Touray, who was introduced on Sunday to the meeting of The Authority of Heads of State & Government of ECOWAS. He replaced Mr. Jean-Claude Kassi Brou of Cote d’Ivoire.

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