ECOWAS Commission meets with permanent Representatives on Peace, Security, Trade and other integration matters22 May, 2019
Abuja, 21st May 2019. The Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has met with the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC), made up of Ambassadors accredited to ECOWAS, on the 21st of May 2019, In Abuja, Nigeria, to discuss recent peace and security developments as well as other issues relating to the regional integration process.
Addressing the Ambassadors, the president of the ECOWAS Commission Jean-Claude Kassi Brou refocused attention on the all-important matter of regional security and inter-community issues.
Identifying Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and north-eastern Nigeria as some of the flashpoints of terrorist attacks, President Brou flayed recent mindless attacks on religious bodies while offering condolences to the families, governments and bereaved countries of the victims.
President Brou said: “We must reflect together to provide the appropriate collective responses to these scourges”. He maintained that their coming together demonstrates a willingness “to give additional dynamism to our platform for exchanges and consultation, and your commitment to support the Commission in achieving the objectives set for it by the Heads of State and Government”
President Brou expressed the hope that the recommendations emanating from their deliberations will enable the Commission to respond more effectively to the challenges while improving their collaboration platform with the effective involvement of the Commission’s Management.
The ECOWAS Commission President also made a passionate plea for concerted efforts on the implementation the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS) noting that the cooperation of the ambassadors is needed also in regards to the conduct of officials of their national agencies, seeing that much else, including the implementation of a single currency for the region, depends on Free movement of persons, goods and services.
The quarterly meeting examined the issues of elections, peace and security. There were also briefings on the latest regional integration agenda, Free Movement as well as cooperation with the African Union, the retreat of the PRC, construction of the new ECOWAS headquarters building, statutory meetings as well as an update on the institutional Reforms.
The ECOWAS Commission’s Vice President Madam Finda Koroma gave insights to how the Commission is going about the various shades of institutional reforms, promising that the best deal awaits staff of the Commission while management is averse to favouritism and political pressure.
Enthusing about the positives coming out of the 40-year old protocol on Free Movement, the ECOWAS Commission’s Commissioner, Trade, Customs and Free Movement Mr. Tei Konzi noted that a sustained sensitisation of Member States has become imperative, stressing in the same vein, the replacement of the Protocol with a Supplementary Act in order to give more powers to the Commission to intervene on instances where trade is impaired by the abuse or misinterpretation of the ETLS’ rules of origin or certification, among others.
The ECOWAS Commission’s Director of Political Affairs Dr. Remi Ajibewa and his counterpart for Peace-Keeping and Regional Security Dr. Cyriaque Agnekethom, gave situation reports on the state of affairs in Member States regarding peace, security, the political processes, citizens participation in governance, new threats, ramification of terrorists’ antics, social tensions as well as the Commission’s responses to matters arising from the issues.
On their part, the Ambassadors sought clarity on some integration matters and documents. They raised concerns on happenings, provided relevant information while exchanging views on the state of play in their various countries. Also youth empowerment, greater coordination on technical Missions, political tensions and tussle, opposition grievances as well as the wellbeing of West African citizens generally. They agreed that security has become a big problem of the region over which a paradigm shift is needed with a corresponding workable intelligence sharing arrangement.
The Permanent Representative of Nigeria and Chair PRC Ambassador Babatunde Nurudeen briefed participants on the earlier retreat of the PRC and solicited the continuous cooperation of ECOWAS Commission in fostering healthy dialogue between the two bodies. Besides the cross pollination of ideas, he held that the Committee will work to ensure that ECOWAS retains its vibrancy while meeting the integration needs of the community.
Through the quarterly meeting which is reinforced by the coordination mechanism that exists, the forum also offers ECOWAS officials the Platform to inform about their work programmes and projects, while gaining from the Permanent Representatives, knowledge of the implementation of ECOWAS projects in their countries as well as the monitoring of Community levies.