Buhari advises ECOWAS members to remove colonially inspired differences, boundaries

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Abuja, Nov. 28, 2022 – President Muhammadu Buhari has called on members of ECOWAS states to remove physical and psychological boundaries and other colonially-inspired differences for the region to progress economically.

The President also advised the ECOWAS parliament on the need to align its programmes to those of the founding fathers of the sub-regional body.

Buhari made these calls at the opening of 2022 Second Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament in Abuja on Monday.

He said that the vision of the founding fathers of ECOWAS was to have a West Africa that is integrated economically with harmonized policies, enjoying free movement of persons, goods and services, as well as seamless right to establishment.

‘‘We must continue to strive harder to attain those objectives. Let us take advantage of existing mechanisms and our enterprising population to turn our dreams into reality.

‘‘We have the capacity to do so. Let us collaborate more and remove our outdated physical and psychological boundaries and other colonially-inspired differences so our region can fully attain its full potential,’’ he said. 

On the election of members of the ECOWAS Parliament by Direct Universal Suffrage, President Buhari said he had declared his support for the process, provided it is conducted with minimum or even at no cost at all to the Community.

‘‘I believe that a membership of the ECOWAS Parliament, not drawn from serving members of parliaments of member states would be a good step towards injecting our regional integration with new energy and initiative,’’ he said.   

He reaffirmed Nigeria’s commitment to ECOWAS efforts with the support of partners, to keep the region peaceful, secure and politically stable, pledging that the country would continue to support the restoration of democratic rule in Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso. 

‘‘We are convinced that the sustenance of democracy and the rule of law should remain the norm in this promising region. 

‘‘There will be multiple political activities in some ECOWAS member states, including Nigeria, where general elections are due to be held in February and March 2023. 

‘‘Let me seize this opportunity to reiterate my commitment to free, fair and transparent elections and smooth transitions. 

‘‘This is one legacy that I want my administration to bequeath, not only to Nigeria, but to the region as a whole,’’ he said. 

President Buhari said that Nigeria was ready to stand by any country in the region that was committed to organising free and fair elections. 

The President said that the global economic downturn had deeply affected the economies of member-countries and resulted in dire economic hardships for the citizens of the Community. 

The President advised the parliament to perform its sacred responsibility of considering the Community budget with diligence, conscious of the sacrifice of various countries in the payment of Community Levy. 

The President described threats to peace and security, political instability and the adverse impact of COVID-19 pandemic on our economies as well as the ongoing war in Ukraine as the biggest concerns facing the region.

‘‘It is on record that the region has not rested on its oars as we have always striven to evolve effective regional mechanisms to address these challenges. 

Buhari assured the parliament that the ground-breaking ceremony of the ECOWAS Commission’s headquarters in Abuja to be constructed by the Government of the Peoples Republic of China will take place on December 5, 2022. 

‘‘Our pledge to construct a new permanent headquarters for this Parliament remains as irrevocable and strong as ever,’’ he said. (GBN)

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