President Muhammadu Buhari Sunday in Abuja called for stronger partnerships among ECOWAS leaders to tackle challenges facing the region, noting that the political, economic, security and Covid-19 issues will require collective action.
The President, who spoke at the 60th Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), said the region faces renewed threats with the Covid-19 pandemic, political tensions, terrorism and economic challenges.
“All of these challenges require our collective action to work in concert with each other to pragmatically address and provide our people better prospects in life. Today’s realities remind us of the need to continue to forge stronger solidarity in order to address the new challenges, including the current third wave of the pandemic and its new Omicron variant.
“I am glad that the Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the West Africa Health Organisation (WAHO) are continuing to work with our respective National Disease Control Centres to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on our people and sub-region,” he said.
President Buhari commended His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo, Chair of Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government and the President of the Republic of Ghana, for the purposeful leadership, commitment and energy he continues to exert to resolve the challenges confronting the organization.
“Despite the enormity of these challenges, our Chair has navigated us well and continues to do so. We owe him enormous gratitude,” he said.
The President noted that challenges of COVID-19 and the catastrophic consequences hoisted on socio-economic environment had continued, adding that the regional resilience, determination and resolution of working together, in solidarity with each other, assisted greatly to lessen the burdens of the Pandemic.
“Excellencies and dear colleagues, without doubt, the occasion for which we have gathered here today, is a clear demonstration of our resolute commitment to the effective integration of our sub-region.
“As a people, we aspire to create a borderless, peaceful, prosperous and cohesive region, built on good governance and where people have the capacity to access and harness its resources through the creation of opportunities for sustainable development, job creation and environmental preservation,” he added.
President Buhari noted that the sub-region continues to face socio-economic, political, security and environmental fragilities linked to COVID-19 pandemic, adding that “our democracy is being challenged in Mali and Guinea.”
According to the President: “Furthermore, threats are looming around, environmental degradation and climate change on our farming system. We are facing a network of criminals, including terrorism.
“At this 60th Ordinary Session, we have before us several issues of critical importance to the Community, as listed on our Agenda. I would, therefore, urge us to carefully consider the issues to be presented to us and take well-informed concrete decisions for the welfare and wellbeing of our peoples and the future of our Community.”
In his remarks, Akufo-Addo said about 10,000 people had died from the Covid-19 pandemic in West Africa, and only two percent of the population had been fully vaccinated, while 6 percent got one dose.
He said the emergence of a new variant poses fresh challenges, adding that the sanctions and restrictions on travelling were unjustified.
The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean Claude Brou, apprised the Heads of State and Government on economic, political and security challenges facing the region, calling for concerted efforts to tackle the difficulties.