Gen GOWON commends integration strides of the ECOWAS Commission23 Nov, 2018
Abuja, 23nd November 2018. Former Nigerian Head of State and a founding father of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), General Yakubu Gowon (Rtd) has commended the integration strides being made by the regional organisation.
The elder statesman gave the commendation while playing host to the President of the ECOWAS Commission Jean-Claude Kassi Brou at his residence in Abuja, Nigeria on the 22nd of November 2018.
Declaring that he was proud of the achievements of ECOWAS, he recalled that the idea of a regional group was to start something that will be an example for other parts of Africa.
He disclosed that, having been propelled by the spirit of pan Africanism, efforts were made for countries such as Cameroun (a nation in central Africa) to join the fold as a precursor to an African economic community.
According to him, there was a lot of love, understanding and respect for one another in the inception days.
General Gowon recalled also that during his time as Nigeria’s head of state, efforts were already being made to build connecting infrastructure across the region beginning from the Nigerian end. He expressed delight that road infrastructure is now being extended to cover greater distances, for example, the inclusion of Dakar sector to the Lagos-Abidjan corridor.
He however expressed concern about the duplicity of check points on the borders, a trend he said is hopefully being addressed by the collaborative measures being put in place by the regional organization, including the joint border arrangements.
He remarked: “Our young people will benefit from it (movement-facilitating infrastructure), they can even be shown the old way, and how we were doing it, taking into account, the geography of the region”
Gen Gowon congratulated President Brou who he described as “our boss” saying: “You have the whole sub-region and I admire all of you for the responsibility taken to look after ECOWAS and the opportunity to look after the people of West Africa. Well done to ECOWAS, all of you are now drivers of the process and you have new and better ideas”
The octogenarian former leader who ruled Nigeria between 1966 and 1975, wished the ECOWAS Commission best of times maintaining that the goodwill goes beyond the ECOWAS leadership and the Heads of State but also to the people of West Africa who do benefit from all the programmes being implemented.
In a lively conversation, president Brou who was accompanied by the ECOWAS Commission’s Commissioner for Finance Mrs Halima Ahmed and his Director of Cabinet Mr. Kalilou Traore, stated that he was at the home of Gen Gowon to introduce himself to “the father of ECOWAS”.
He noted that alongside the founding fathers of the organisation, Gen Gowon took ECOWAS importantly, driving it to the point of yielding today’s bountiful fruits of integration where new pioneering efforts mark out ECOWAS as the foremost regional organisation in Africa.
He stressed that ECOWAS was made possible due largely, to the efforts of General Gowon in setting the high standard that the succeeding leaders are now following.
President Brou had earlier intimated the elder statesman on some of the strides of ECOWAS which included developments on the building of regional infrastructure, citing the Abidjan-Lagos highway in this regard and over which he said a treaty had been signed and studies carried out.
He also had a word on the recently commissioned Sèmè-Kraké Joint Border Post (JBP) noting among others that there are plans to build six more of such joint border posts to facilitate free movement of persons goods and services in the region.
He told Gen Gowon that the ECOWAS Commission would be extending invitations to him, for attendance of some of the ECOWAS Summits that usually take place in the course of the year.
On the new headquarters building proposed for the Commission, President Brou said in this regard that work is being expedited in order to exit the current situation where the Commission’s various offices are scattered over more than one building.
He informed that work had commenced on the project enthusing that with the fast pace of work by the Chinese, the project has a good chance of being completed within the next two years.