By Bukola Olasanmi
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has hailed the developmental efforts by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) despite challenges in the region as well as the undemocratic take over of government.
Osinbajo expressed this view while receiving a delegation of the ECOWAS Commission led by its new President, Dr. Omar Alieu Touray, at the Presidential Villa on Thursday.
This was disclosed in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on media, Laolu Akande, saying that the hard work of ECOWAS is seen “in the transitions going on (in different countries that experienced coups) and the seriousness with which the rest of the world takes what ECOWAS says today.”
He noted that ECOWAS has been stepping up to the plate, dealing with the challenges of upholding democracy, ensuring peace, security and maintaining stability in the region.
According to the VP, he is “proud of the way that ECOWAS has risen to its responsibilities. ECOWAS has always stepped up to the plate in every single situation where there are coups, our voices (member countries) have been united and strong.”
Speaking on the objectives that guide the activities of ECOWAS, Prof. Osinbajo stated that “we share the same objectives of shared prosperity, deeper integration, peace and security, inclusive and sustainable development.
“These objectives are very important and peace and security are obviously crucial to us. It is a challenge we face today all over the sub-region and especially in the Sahel.”
The Vice President acknowledged that “as a nation, a people and as a sub-region, we share so much in common and we have every tool it takes to resolve our problems.”
Regarding ECOWAS’s engagement on a global stage, Prof. Osinbajo stated that it is imperative to reiterate that opinions from the African Continent, especially the regional bloc of West Africa must be heard at all times and considered when decisions are being made.
According to him, “it is very important for us to emphasize to our partners at all times, our points of view must not only be heard but must be taken into account in decision-making.
“Whether it is trade or even the ongoing discussions around climate change and what we should do about adaptation and mitigation, our points of view must be taken into account because they are crucial in decision making.”
Osinbajo added that for this to happen, member countries within ECOWAS need to “speak for us as a regional bloc” and there should be “readiness to take joint action to achieve our common objectives because the successes we have seen so far are the successes that have come out of our cooperation and collaboration from all our member states.”
On the need to have stronger institutions in member countries for dealing with internal pressures, Prof Osinbajo noted that “what we are concerned with today are problems that are not only local but also global.
“There is so much we have to do in common and work together to achieve. We need for our institutions to be strong to represent us, our points of view and also to be trusted by the people so that they are more efficient and effective.”
In his own remarks, Dr. Alieu Touray thanked the Vice President and the government for the support given to ECOWAS. He recognized the leadership role Nigeria plays in the region, pledging to work very closely with the government for the benefit of the community.
His words: “we are committed to serving the community and we are confident that with the type of support Nigeria gives to ECOWAS institutions, we will excel in delivering our mandate.”
Other members of the delegation include Prof Nazifi Abdullahi Darma, Commissioner of Internal Services and Hon. Abdou Kolley, Chief of Staff to the President.