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Regional Integration is Moving Forward despite Obstacles says de Souza
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The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) held its 41st Anniversary celebration on the 10th of June 2016 at its Commission Headquarters in Abuja with garlands, tributes and sober reflections.

Welcoming delegates of the development partners and other invited guests to the well-attended occasion, the president of the ECOWAS Commission, His Excellency Marcel de Souza represented by the Commissioner of Trade, Customs and Free Movement Laouali Chaibou paid tributes to the stakeholders of ECOWAS and heads of its institutions for remaining faithful to the ECOWAS project through the years.

Expressing his gratitude to the Partners and citizens of West Africa for their unalloyed support of the integration programs and activities, the President enthused that the execution of the community integration programmes in the area of energy, transport, infrastructure and telecoms would continue to endure because of the commitment by all stakeholders. With such commitment, he added, “the regional integration is moving forward despite the obstacles”
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He noted that ECOWAS has set a good example to other Regional Economic Communities (REC) on the continent with the level of progress being made in bringing the Biometric Identity Card into being. This he said would simplify entry and stay in ECOWAS member states.

President de Souza disclosed that monitoring personnel and equipment for inter-state transportation are being installed along the borders in the region to complement the implementation of the Free Movement of Goods, persons and services. 

He was full of thanks to God while recognizing the role, diligence and cooperation of all agencies such as the West African Health Organisation (WAHO), national governments and the ECOWAS machinery for working together to put an end to the dreaded Ebola disease.PIC. 10

In his remarks, the ECOWAS Staff Representative Dr. Tony Luka Elumelu praised the ECOWAS’ spirit of cooperation saying the zest displayed by staff as the engine room that drives the community economic and integration agenda has been encouraging. He called for a one minute silence in honour of ECOWAS   staff who have paid the ultimate price in the course of duty. His remarks came on the heels of a welcoming statement by the Commissioner for Administration and Conference Mr. Stephen Anyemi Nartey

Guest lecturer professor Amadu Sesay who spoke on the theme: ECOWAS and Peace Support Operations in West Africa: Opportunities and Threats traced the evolution of ECOWAS and gave a rundown of the ECOWAS trajectory since inception surmising that the regional group is “perhaps the single most important collective achievement in independent West Africa”

With the aid of a power-point presentation, professor Sesay examined the core components of the peace support operations. He maintained that the watchful world was quite satisfied with the fact that ECOWAS has established the nexus between peace and development and between conflict and stability and progress

The ambassador of Liberia to Nigeria accredited to the ECOWAS Commission Al-Hassan Conteh who spoke on behalf of the Permanent Representative of member states to ECOWAS thanked the president of the ECOWAS Commission for the strides made so far by ECOWAS.He lauded the efforts towards attaining the single currency for the region, the adoption of the Biometric Card as well as the other programmes that promote integration. He located other achievement in the areas of trade liberalization, Customs union, favourable industrial policy, Mines development, agriculture and the environment, infrastructure, transport, telecommunications and energy.PIC. 2

Ambassador Conteh commended ECOWAS for the resolution of the crisis in Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau and Mali. He pledged that the Permanent Representatives “stand ready to play our part in helping ECOWAS to attain the integration agenda…” He also thanked the government of Nigeria for recently pledging its full support to the ECOWAS Commission in Abuja.

Invited guests were shown the documentary If I Were Told About ECOWAS and thereafter treated to celebration songs by the ECOWAS Staff Choir and a cocktail.

In attendance were members of the diplomatic community and Member States ambassadors from Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo. There were also representatives of 66 other diplomatic Missions accredited to ECOWAS.

ECOWAS was established on May 28 1975 via the treaty of Lagos, with a mandate of promoting economic integration in all fields of activity of the constituting countries. Its foundation treaty was revised in 1993 to make room for reforms that aid greater integration and co prosperity for the citizens of West Africa.


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