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ECOWAS’ achievements at the centre of discussions between Marcel De Souza and General Yakubu Gowon
 poignee-de-main-entre-marcel-de-souza-et-yakubu-gowonThe ECOWAS Commission President, Marcel de Souza, commended the leadership role and vision of Gen. Yakubu Gowon, which contributed to the establishment of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in 1975.

During a courtesy visit to the Former Nigerian Head of State on Monday, 31 October 2016, to congratulate him on the occasion of his 82nd birthday celebrated on the 19th of the same month, Marcel de Souza expressed the gratitude of the West African people for the establishment of the Community.

The role, you and the late Togolese President Gnassingbé Eyadema, played in the establishment of ECOWAS will never be forgotten by West African citizens and future generations, Marcel de Souza said.

The Commission President also commended Gen. Gowon for the many initiatives he took to speed up the regional economic integration process. Your vision is still relevant and contributed to numerous achievements, he added.

These achievements include the abolition of visas to facilitate intra-regional mobility, free movement of persons and goods alongside promoting the right of entry, residence and establishment of Community citizens. “Today, migratory movement in West Africa is seven times greater than elsewhere” Marcel de Souza disclosed.

The entry into force of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme and Common External Tariff, establishment of a West African Customs Union, implementation of a roadmap for the introduction of the single currency by 2020, are also among ECOWAS achievements, Marcel de Souza

Other achievements of the Regional Organisation include the construction of the Abidjan-Lagos highway, implementation of the joint border post programme and the West African Gas Pipeline project.

Despite these achievements, Marcel de Souza noted that many challenges still remain, in particular the fight against poverty, unemployment, migration of African youth to Europe, corruption, dearth of infrastructure, as well as low trade volume in the region.marcel-de-souza-et-yakubu-gowon

“Today, trade between our countries is estimated at USD 15 billion, compared to EUR 67 billion with Europe. We trade four times more with Europe than among ourselves. However, with the construction of the Abidjan-Lagos highway, railways, ports and airports, I believe that we will make much more significant progress”, Marcel de Souza noted.

For his part, Gen. Yakubu Gowon congratulated Marcel de Souza on his appointment as Commission President and wished him and his team every success in attaining the regional Integration goal.

The Former Nigerian Head of State gave his guest an overview of the establishment of ECOWAS. He noted that it reflected the will of the then-West African Heads of State, recalling that late Gnassingbé Eyadema and he were only tasked with the responsibility of convincing other Heads of State.

‘The objective of the then-Heads of State was to create a Community that would be home to all West African citizens, regardless of their nationality”, he intimated.

Gen. Yakubu Gowon expressed the wish to see other African Regional Economic Communities develop to the standard of ECOWAS to ensure Africa’s economic development and achieve African unity.

He commended the efforts made by the ECOWAS Commission since its transformation in 2007 to promote West Africa’s economic development and integration.

Regional integration was also at the centre of discussions held on Tuesday, 1st November 2016 between Marcel de Souza and the new Nigerian Permanent Representative to ECOWAS, Babatunde Nurudeen.

The Nigerian Diplomat lamented obstacles to the free movement of persons and goods within the ECOWAS region, which are mainly characterised by extortion and harassment of travelers along Member State borders as well as many illegal checkpoints on the main West African highways.

He commended Marcel de Souza for the various measures he took since assuming office, particularly with the aim of controlling ECOWAS financial resources.

“The outcomes of these measures are encouraging and Nigeria is pleased with your initiatives at the helm of the regional organisation” he concluded.




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