ECOWAS 54th Ordinary Session Ends on resounding Notes
-2019 General Election in Nigeria and Senegal an acid test
–Single Currency by 2020 will be a challenge –Onyeama
ECOWAS 54th Ordinary Session held in Abuja, Nigeria ends on resounding notes as vital issues affecting the sub region were captures in the final communiqué read by the His Excellency, Geoffrey Onyeama, Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs who is also the Chairman of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers. The ECOWAS Heads of State and Government have charged Nigeria and Senegal to leave no stone unturned in ensuring the conduct of elections are peaceful, free and transparent.
The leaders directed the commission to provide the necessary support to the both countries. According to the communiqué “the Authority notes with satisfaction, the status of preparation for the general elections in Nigeria on Feb 16. 2019 and presidential election in Senegal on Feb. 24, 2019 and urges the government and relevant electoral bodies to leave no stone unturned in ensuring the elections are peaceful, free and transparent.”
On the political situation in Togo, the leaders commended efforts of President Nana Akuffo-Addo of Ghana, President Alpha Conde of Republic of Guinea and ECOWAS facilitators in the resolution of the Togolese political crisis. They noted the readiness of the Togolese Government to organize local elections in 2019 and further encouraged the active involvement of all stakeholders to ensure the process was peaceful and inclusive. The ECOWAS Heads of State encouraged the Togolese Government to intensify the peace and confidence-building measures between all political stakeholders to further ease the sociopolitical situation.
On peace, security and democracy in the region, the leaders reaffirmed the importance of peace, security and stability in ECOWAS for the economic development of the region. They also reiterated their condemnation of terrorist attacks and expressed solidarity with the affected countries.
They lauded the cooperation among certain member states intending to effectively combat the scourge of terrorism and instructed the commission to support and extend cooperation to other states.
At the end of the 54th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS of Heads of State and Government, the Chairman of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers, His Excellency Geoffrey Onyeama and the President of the ECOWAS Commission, His Excellency Jean-Claude Brou addressed the press. On the issue of single currency within the ECOWAS region, Onyeama says achieving the ECOWAS Single Currency by 2020 will be a challenge.
In his words, “there is a roadmap, the convergence criteria that have to be satisfied before we can really get to the stage of a single currency. In ECOWAS, we have a group of countries that in essence almost have a single currency mechanism in place and we have other countries that have their own currencies and being able to align all these is going to take some time. It will be a challenge to achieve the single currency by 2020 but all the efforts are being made.”Onyeama informed newsmen that the central bank governors, finance ministers and experts in the region were working toward ensuring that the set timeline was achieved. Furthermore, he said, “the political will is there and it is really a question to see whether the economic and fiscal realities will converge with the political aspirations.”
On his part, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr Jean-Claude Brou said the region had made very good progress in its efforts to ensure free movement of people among member states, and expressed hope that the single currency in 2020 is within reached. Brou said that part of the efforts was to have biometric identity card for all citizens in the region to promote security and facilitate the achievement of the single currency.
In his words, “three countries in ECOWAS are already using the ECOWAS Biometric Identity card, so we are urging other countries to do it.It has security features and that will also increase security in the region and at the same time, not prevent free movement of goods and persons which is a very important step of the single market.”
The 54th Ordinary Session of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government had in attendance nine presidents while five were represented. They are His Excellency Roch Kabore , President of Burkina Faso, His Excellency Alassane Ouattara ,President of Côte d’Ivoire, His Excellency Nana Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana, His Excellency Alpha Conde, President of Guinea, His Excellency José Mário Vaz, President of Guinea Bissau, His Excellency Issoufou Mahamadou, President of Niger, His Excellency Julius Madaa Bio, President of Sierra Leone, His Excellency Faure Gnassingbe, President of Togo and His ExcellenyMuhammadu Buhari of Nigeria.
Others are, His Excellency Mahammed Dionne, Prime Minister of Senegal
while The Gambia, Mali and Liberia were represented by their foreign ministers. Benin was represented byher Ambassador to Nigeria while Cabo Verde stayed away from the summit. The date and venue of the next summit would be communicated at a later date after consultations with the Heads of State.