President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday called for stronger solidarity by West African leaders to tackle the challenges of crime, terrorism, and climate change which he said has negative effects on agriculture.
Addressing the 54th ordinary session of the Economic Community of West African States Authority of Heads of State and Government, in Abuja on Saturday, the Nigerian leader pointed out that important decisions to address these realities should be taken in the course of the meetings.
According to him, the meeting of the ECOWAS leaders was a clear testimony to their collective resolve and commitment to the effective integration of the West African sub-region.
He applauded the reported progress made by the community particularly in the areas of political governance, peace and security as well as in the economic and social fields.
Buhari said, “It is a matter of concern that terrorism and violent extremism have continued to threaten the peace and security in our sub-region. This threat calls for collective action on our part, if we are to effectively and definitely eliminate it.
“As we work on new strategies to combat and eradicate this menace, we require the support of our partners to ensure the achievement of our objectives.”
The President noted that the determination to create a safe and stable sub-region must be predicated on a strong and capable organisation, adding that no institution could function without adequate funding.
“This would require that all hands are on deck and that all member states ensure the payment of the statutory community levy as and when due. By so doing, we will empower and enable the commission to implement the integration agenda as we march towards the year 2020 and actualise our vision of building an ECOWAS of peoples and not states,” Buhari, who is the Chair of the Authority, added.
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel, Mr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas in his remark, said more efforts needed to be made to address contentious issues related to conduct of elections in order to prevent and mitigate electoral violence, human rights abuses and promote respect for the rule of law.
He said, “Upcoming elections in the sub-region will present opportunities for further consolidating democracy. UNOWAS is coordinating efforts with ECOWAS Commission to ensure appropriate support to these countries in their efforts to organize free, credible and peaceful elections.”