President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday told African leaders to ensure they foster relations to ensure the continent’s growth and prosperity.
He said this in his opening speech at the 55th Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
His speech below:
“I commend our individual and collective efforts towards the promotion of good governance, peace, stability and socio-economic development in our sub-region. We must remain focused on our collective endeavour to make the sub-region an area of peace and security.
This is an essential prerequisite if we are to attain the primary objective of our organization which is, to “promote cooperation and integration, leading to the establishment of an economic and monetary union in West Africa, in order to raise the living standards of its people and contribute to the progress and development of the African continent”.
Despite the overall appreciable progress we have made, particularly in the field of political governance, our sub-region continues to face considerable security challenges. We are all witnesses to the recurring incidents of inter-communal clashes, herders-farmers conflicts, banditry and terrorist attacks in all our countries.
These threats, you will agree with me, have consequences on the peaceful co-existence between our communities and peoples as well as their livelihoods.
This unrest also undermines all our efforts in achieving full regional integration. It is, therefore, necessary that we act collectively to end this menace in the interest of regional stability and wellbeing of our people.
Let me offer, on behalf of all of us, our sincere sympathies and condolences to the families of the victims of terrorist attacks, banditry and inter-communal clashes perpetrated by some misguided elements in our societies. We shall not relent in our efforts to protect our peace loving people and their properties, while vigorously sustaining the war against terrorism and criminality.
Excellencies Heads of State and Government,
Taking into account the transnational nature of the threats confronting us, the need for the adoption of a common strategy at the national and regional level to combat them, has become imperative. By so doing, we will reinforce our actions and resources for a more effective response to protect our citizens and secure our common space.
While I acknowledge that several initiatives and measures have been taken in our respective countries recent developments have shown that we must cooperate more effectively to achieve our goals.
We should send a strong and unified message to the perpetrators of violence that we are resolute in our collective determination to confront and defeat them.
I would like to renew our gratitude to all our colleagues who have skilfully conducted the political mediation missions we entrusted to them.
As we strive to create a secure, stable and prosperous environment in West Africa, we must also intensify our efforts to ensure sustainable economic and social development in our sub-region. By doing so, we will be able to tackle poverty and youth unemployment and contribute to our sustained stability.
Several issues relating to different policies, programmes and projects are itemized for discussion during today’s meeting.
As is our custom, the 55th ordinary session will also consider these matters from the reports on today’s agenda.
Considering the high level of interest you all attach to regional cooperation and integration, I am confident that our Summit will witness robust discussions and produce sound decisions.
Let me at this point, take this opportunity to renew, once again, our sincere appreciation to the African Union, the United Nations and all our bilateral and multilateral partners for their sustained cooperation and assistance. We value their partnership.
I will conclude my remarks by wishing us fruitful deliberations. I hereby declare open the 55th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government.”