Insurgency: Buhari Calls For Effective Collaboration Among ECOWAS Countries

File Photo: President Muhammadu Buhari addresses troops of the Nigerian Army.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has called for more collaboration among countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to effectively fight terrorism in the region.

President Buhari made this call on Saturday during the graduation ceremony of 181 Senior Course 42 officers at the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji in Kaduna State.

The President noted that Nigeria, in partnership with its allies, will not relent until the Boko Haram terrorists in the Lake Chad basin and other insurgency group terrorising the West African subregion and the entire continent are completely decimated.

Speaking through the Minister of Defense, Major General Bashir Magashi (retired), President Buhari commended the Armed Forces for their continued prompt responses to the numerous security challenges facing the country.

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He was accompanied by Kaduna Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, and other top military officers.

A total of 181 officers drawn from the Nigerian Army, Airforce, Navy, Police, Paramilitary agencies, and 13 allied students from 10 African countries took part in the 49 weeks senior military course which commenced in August 2019.

The officers had passed through several aspects of training in leadership, public security, command, and staff functions to prepare them for the challenges ahead.

I Am Uneasy About UEMOA Zone’s Move To Adopt Eco Ahead Of ECOWAS – Buhari

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has said that it gives him an uneasy feeling that the UEMOA Zone wishes to take up the Eco in replacement for its CFA Franc ahead of other ECOWAS Member States.

The President who disclosed this via Twitter on Tuesday stated that it is a matter of concern that a people with whom the entire ECOWAS wishes to go into a union are taking major steps without trusting their partners for discussion.

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“We have all staked so much in this project to leave things to mere expediencies and convenience,” President Buhari stated.

He added that the ECOWAS must proceed with caution and comply with the agreed process of reaching its collective goal while treating each other with the utmost respect.

President Buhari argued that a collective understanding, then the region’s ambitions for a strategic Monetary Union as an ECOWAS bloc could very well be in serious jeopardy.

Adopting Eco Currency Should Be In Unison, Buhari Tells ECOWAS Leaders

President Muhammadu Buhari participates in a virtual extraordinary meeting of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ) on June 23, 2020.

 

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has cautioned that the ambition for the Eco currency could be in ‘serious jeopardy,’ unless member-states complied with agreed processes of reaching the collective goal.

He was also concerned about the decision of francophone countries that form the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) to replace the CFA Franc with Eco ahead of the rest of the member-states.

The President delivered Nigeria’s position on the new regional currency on Tuesday at a virtual extraordinary meeting of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ).

The meeting discussed the implementation of the ECOWAS Monetary Cooperation Programme (EMCP) and the ECOWAS Single Currency Agenda.

“Your excellencies, you all are familiar with the history of the Eco thus far, so I will not bore you with that. We reverted to a single-track approach, giving up Eco which is the original idea of the WAMZ so the ECOWAS-wide programme could thrive,” the President was quoted as saying in a statement by his media adviser, Femi Adesina.

He added, “In this regard, we have made remarkable progress, including the adoption of the Exchange Rate regime, the name and model of the common Central Bank, and the symbol.

“We have urged our ministers towards an expeditious path to success. It, therefore, gives me an uneasy feeling that the UEMOA Zone now wishes to take up the Eco in replacement for its CFA Franc ahead of the rest of the Member States.”

President Buhari decried that this was in addition to deviating from the Community Act on consistent attainment of convergence in the three years running up to the introduction of the currency, and the subsequent reinforcing directives.

He said he was informed that the French ministers have approved a bill to reform the CFA Franc and most, if not all of the UEMOA member-states, have already passed legislation in their various parliaments to that effect.

“It is a matter of concern that a people with whom we wish to go into a union are taking these major steps without trusting us for discussion,” the President added.

He assured ECOWAS leaders of Nigeria’s commitment to the single currency but urged them to critically consider the recommendations made by the Convergence Council and take a common position to safeguard the West African Monetary Zone from the pitfalls of a questionable union.

President Buhari also affirmed Nigeria’s support for a monetary union with the right fundamentals, which guarantees credibility, sustainability, and overall regional prosperity and sovereignty.

According to him, Nigeria also believes that given the potential contractions and even losses from the global COVID-19 pandemic, member-states cannot but be too cautious about ensuring compliance with the set standards.

“We cannot ridicule ourselves by entering a union to disintegrate, potentially no sooner than we enter into it. We need to be clear and unequivocal about our position regarding this process,” the Nigerian leader warned.

He added, “We must also communicate the same to the outside world effectively. We have all staked so much in this project to leave things to mere expediencies and convenience. My dear colleagues, Heads of State and Government, it is obvious that we are at a crossroads.”

‘‘We must proceed with caution and comply with the agreed process of reaching our collective goal while treating each other with the utmost respect.

“Without these, our ambitions for a strategic Monetary Union as an ECOWAS bloc could very well be in serious jeopardy,” the President cautioned.

Following the caution raised by Nigeria and some other West African countries at the meeting, the ECOWAS leaders resolved to convene an enlarged meeting of the regional bloc on the single currency issue.

COVID-19 Devastation: Buhari Demands Economic Recovery Plan

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has charged the ECOWAS Commission to come up with an economic recovery plan to help member-states to recover from the economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking Thursday at a virtual meeting with the President of the Commission, Jean Kassi-Brou, President Buhari, in his capacity as the ECOWAS COVID-19 Champion, agreed to provide logistic support to enable the sub-region to receive and distribute procured and donated medical equipment using Abuja as the hub for the distribution.

The Nigerian leader lamented that the pandemic is yet to reach its peak in the sub-region and warned against laxity in the fight against it. He called on member-states to continually sensitise their citizens on preventive measures.

The President expressed appreciation on behalf of ECOWAS member-states for the “swift interventions made to the West African Health Organisation (WAHO) and the Africa Centre for Disease Control by the Jack Ma Foundation,” while also commending the support so far received from “development partners such as the European Union, African Development Bank, France and Germany for their financial contributions in the procurement of medical supplies.”

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He urged member-states to work closely in order to overcome the pandemic in the sub-region.

In his report to President Buhari, the President of the ECOWAS Commission advocated additional strategies to assist the sub-region in fighting the health and economic impact of COVID-19.

According to Kassi-Brou, these include, the need for advocacy at continental and global levels particularly with the G20, World Bank, United Nations and the African Development Bank among others, for support to negate the health and economic damage to the ECOWAS sub-region; and mass awareness campaign to achieve behavioral change among the citizens of the community with effective customs, security and health protocols put in place throughout the sub-region.

The President of the ECOWAS Commission used the occasion to condole with the government and people of Nigeria on the latest Boko Haram attack on Gubio Local Government in Borno State during which scores of innocent Nigerians were killed.

ECOWAS Leaders Call For Cancellation Of Debts Owed By African Countries

A picture of a TV screen showing Presidents of ECOWAS countries at a video conference on April 23, 2020. Photo: Twitter- @IssoufouMhm

 

 

The Presidents of ECOWAS countries are calling for the cancellation of all debts owed by African countries.

They made the call on Thursday at the opening session of the ECOWAS Extraordinary Summit where the leaders made their various contributions via a video conference call.

The teleconference, which had President Muhammadu Buhari in attendance, was presided over by the President of the Republic of Niger and Chair of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, Mahamadou Issoufou.

President Issoufou made the statement on behalf of the ECOWAS leaders in attendance before the meeting went into a closed-door session.

The President of the Republic of Niger and Chair of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, Mahamadou Issoufou. Photo: Twitter- @IssoufouMhm

 

 

Meanwhile, the ECOWAS presidents have appointed President Buhari as the Champion of the COVID-19 response.

The President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, disclosed this in a statement at the end of the meeting.

During the teleconference, President Buhari had called on fellow ECOWAS leaders to look beyond the challenges posed by the COVID -19 pandemic and tap into various opportunities it has presented for the betterment of lives in member states.

A file photo of President Muhammadu Buhari. Photo: [email protected]

 

 

“In every challenging situation such as the current one, there are also opportunities,” he was quoted as saying in the statement.

The President added, “Our region must, therefore, seek to find those opportunities provided by this gloomy global outlook for its benefit by embarking on the implementation of such critical policies, which before now, will be difficult to accept.”

He called on his colleagues to intensify collaboration in order to save the region from the pandemic by sharing their experiences and best practices.

President Buhari also highlighted some of the measures taken by his government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

ECOWAS Leaders Set Up Committee On Nigeria’s Land Border Closure

Fine photo

 

 

The Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government has constituted a committee to study and make a full report on the Nigerian government’s land border closure with neighbouring countries.

A statement from the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said the committee is headed by President Roch Marc Christian Kabore of Burkina Faso.

Shehu explained that the decision to set up the committee was agreed on Sunday night in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at an extraordinary session of ECOWAS leaders convened on the margins of the 33rd AU Summit to discuss the issue and other pressing regional matters.

According to him, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, who travelled to Ethiopia with President Muhammadu Buhari and other, briefed reporters after the three-hour closed-door session.

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“The President of Burkina Faso is charged with undertaking a full study of the situation, make a report and then we take it from there,” Onyeama was quoted as saying in the statement.

Asked when the report would be presented to ECOWAS Heads of State and Government, he replied, “As soon as possible.

“There are no timelines; but he (Kabore) is supposed to start very quickly, study the situation from all the affected countries and present his report.”

The minister revealed that the meeting also discussed West Africa′s new single currency – the Eco – and the situation in Guinea Bissau after the presidential election.

He affirmed that nothing has changed in respect of Nigeria’s position on the Eco currency.

Onyeama explained that Nigeria’s position was that the convergence criteria have not been met by the majority of the countries, stressing that there has to be an extension of time on the take-off of the single currency.

On Guinea Bissau, the Minister said ECOWAS leaders recognised that there was an appeal of the presidential election result and they were waiting for the Supreme Court decision on the matter.

President Buhari and other leaders in the region attended the meeting chaired by the ECOWAS Chairman, President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger Republic.

SERAP Drags FG, Cross River To ECOWAS Court Over ‘Sham Trial Of Agba Jalingo’

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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has dragged the government of Nigeria and Cross River state government of governor Ben Ayade to ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja “over the prolonged, arbitrary detention; unfair prosecution; persecution, and sham trial of journalist Agba Jalingo.”

Jalingo, who is the publisher of CrossRiverWatch, was arrested on August 22 over a report alleging that Mr Ayade diverted N500 million belonging to the state.

In the suit number ECW/CCJ/APP/10/2020 filed last week at the ECOWAS Court, SERAP is arguing that: “The sole objective of the government of Nigeria and the Cross River state government of governor Ben Ayade is to perpetually keep Agba Jalingo in arbitrary detention and to silence him simply for expressing critical views and carrying out his legitimate job as journalist.”

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According to the suit: “This is not the first time the government of Nigeria and the Cross River state government of governor Ben Ayade have taken actions to intimidate, harass and suppress journalists through the instrumentality of trumped-up charges and use of overly broad and unjust laws, including section 24 of Nigeria’s Cybercrime Act, 2015, which provides for the offence of cyber-stalking.”

The suit filed on SERAP’s behalf by its solicitor Kolawole Oluwadare, states: “the government of Nigeria and Cross-River state government are using vague laws that give officials massive discretion to undermine human rights. They are punishing Agba Jalingo and other journalists and silencing them for their reporting, thereby undermining Nigerians’ right to information, to public participation, to open and democratic governance in the country.”

The suit read, in part: “If freedom of expression and media freedom are to have true meaning in a democracy, these rights necessarily must include the freedom to criticize the government and its functionaries. Indeed, the idea of a democracy is that the people are encouraged to express their criticisms, even their wrong-headed criticisms, of elected government institutions, in the expectation that this process will improve the process of government.”

“The harassment, intimidation, unfair prosecution and arbitrary detention of Agba Jalingo simply for exercising his human rights violate Nigeria’s international human rights obligations, including under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to which the country is a state party.”

“Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right and full enjoyment of this right is central to achieving individual freedom and to developing democracy. It is not only the cornerstone of democracy but indispensable to a thriving civil society”

“In circumstances of public debate concerning public figures in the political domain and public institutions, the value placed by human rights treaties upon uninhibited expression is particularly high.”

“The government of Nigeria and the Cross-River state government of governor Ben Ayade have via the charges of terrorism and treason and denial of bail to Agba Jalingo, violated and continued to breach his human rights.”

“SERAP contends that Agba Jalingo is being unfairly prosecuted because of his reporting in his online news outlet, Cross River Watch, which alleged that the Cross Rivers State Governor diverted the sum of N500million, belonging to the Cross-River Micro Finance Bank.”

“On 22nd August 2019, the Nigeria Police, through its special anti-robbery squad arrested Agba Jalingo. On 23rd August 2019, Mr. Jalingo was transferred to a detention facility run by the anti-cult and anti-kidnapping police in Calabar, the capital of Nigeria’s southern Cross River state and was held there for days before his arraignment on 31st August, 2019.”

SERAP is seeking the following reliefs:

1. A DECLARATION that the actions by the government of Nigeria and the Cross River state government of governor Ben Ayade to continue to arbitrarily detain and unfairly prosecute Agba Jalingo using the Cybercrimes Act, sections 41 & 59 of Nigeria’s Criminal Code Act and sections 1 & 17 (2)(a)&(b) of the Terrorism (Prevention, Amendment) Act, violate his human rights, as guaranteed under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights

2. A DECLARATION that the arbitrary detention and unfair prosecution of Agba Jalingo by the government of Nigeria and the Cross River state government of governor Ben Ayade is illegal and unlawful, as it amounts to breaches of Nigerian international obligations to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the rights to freedom of expression and information and media freedom, guaranteed under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights

3. AN ORDER directing the government of Nigeria and the Cross-River state government of governor Ben Ayade to immediately and unconditionally release Agba Jalingo and drop all charges against him, consistent with Nigeria’s international human rights obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights

4. AN ORDER directing directing the government of Nigeria and the Cross-River state government of governor Ben Ayade and/or their agents to provide Agba Jalingo with effective remedies and reparation, including adequate compensation, restitution, satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition

5. FOR SUCH FURTHER orders as the Honorable Court may deem fit to make in the circumstances of this suit.

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

ECOWAS Mobilising Own Resources To Combat Terrorism, Says Buhari

 

President Muhammadu Buhari says ECOWAS member countries are mobilizing their own resources to combat the scourge of terrorism.

He said this on Saturday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at a High-Level meeting of the African Union Peace and Security Council on the State of Peace and Security in Africa during the 33rd AU Summit.

While commending the move he called for new strategies by the Union to effectively prevent, manage and resolve conflicts in the face of new challenges.

Speaking further, the president said Nigeria is proud to continue to serve as a strong contributor to the peace roles played by the regional bloc.

”In Burkina Faso, we (ECOWAS) pledged to mobilize one billion US dollars to address the challenges of insecurity in our region and the Sahel. In Guinea Bissau, ECOWAS successfully midwifed the general elections.

”Nigeria along with ECOWAS member states led in the restoration of democracy and peace in the Gambia,” he said, while welcoming the collaborative leadership of the AU with other Regional Economic Communities in resolving conflicts on the continent.

”Nigeria condemns, in the strongest terms, the perpetrators of terrorism in Libya, the Sahel, Lake Chad Basin, and parts of the Horn of Africa.

”We reiterate that efforts must continue to be pooled to mitigate this dreadful violence and secure the future of our continent,” he said.

On new strategies to resolve conflicts on the continent, the President said: ”The AU must strengthen its own capacity for mediation and develop an effective intervention roadmap.”

He added that more emphasis should be placed on promoting national dialogue, reconciliation and social cohesion in order to rally all actors towards sustainable peace.

Meanwhile, the president announced that Nigeria has fulfilled its financial obligations to the AU Peace Fund up to 2019, pledging to continue investing in peace and security on the continent.

He reminded the meeting that drawing from the Kigali and Johannesburg Assembly Decisions, the fund is structured for the internal peace support arrangements within the continent and not as resources to subsidise the mandate of the UN Security Council.

”In this regard, my delegation will always fervently contest attempts to make Africa subsidize the primary responsibility of the UN as clearly provided in it Charter,” he said.

President Buhari also welcomed the decision of the AU Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) to adopt the regional stabilisation strategy for the Lake Chad Basin and the renewal of mandates of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) and the G5 Sahel Joint Force.

He told the meeting that Nigeria was very encouraged by the resolution of the continent’s standing decision-making body for conflict prevention, management and resolution, on the Lake Chad Basin.

“We are hopeful that the Inter Water Basin Transfer Initiative for the recharging of the Lake Chad will address some of the drivers of terrorism, particularly the impact of climate change and inter-communal clashes over access to natural resources.

“We equally call on the Assembly to direct the full implementation of these AU-inspired initiatives,” he said.

West Africa Divided As Nigeria, Ghana, Others Reject Eco Common Currency

 

Six Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) countries have rejected the move by eight other francophone nations in the region to adopt the Eco common currency.

Nigeria, Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, all English-speaking countries and Guinea, the only francophone country, faulted the move by Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo who had agreed to change the name of their common currency, CFA francs to Eco.

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At an extraordinary meeting of the Ministers of Finance and Economy, and the Governors of Central Banks in the West African Monetary Zone on Thursday, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed said that the declaration is not in line with the decisions of ECOWAS Heads of States.

“While the meeting applauds the decision of the francophone West African countries to the link, the meeting also noted with concern, the declaration by his Excellency, Alassane Ouattara, Chairman of the authority of the Heads of States and Governments of the West African Economy and Monetary Union on the 21st December 2019 to unilaterally rename the CFA francs as eco by the year 2020.

“WAMZ Convergence council wishes to emphasize that this action is not in line with the decision of the authorities of the heads of states and government of ECOWAS for the adoption of the eco as the name of an independent ECOWAS single currency.”

 

 

At the end of the meeting, delegates recommended that an extraordinary general meeting of ECOWAS heads of state and governments in the West African Monetary Zone be convened to discuss the matter.

“The council reiterates the importance for all ECOWAS member countries to adhere to the decisions of the ECOWAS authority heads of states and government towards the implementation of the revised roadmap of the ECOWAS single currency programme.

“The council recommends that an extraordinary summit of the authority of the heads of state and government of the WAMZ member state be convened soon to discuss this matter and other related issues.”

In December 2019, the adoption of Eco common currency by the eight francophone countries was lauded by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), showing readiness to engage with the regional authorities, owing to its proven track record in the conduct of monetary policy and external reserve management.

Ghana had in December, lauded the move and said that the country is determined to do whatever they can to join the Member States of UEMOA soon.

Ghana Govt Reveals Plan To Adopt New Single West African ‘Eco’ Currency

 

The Government of Ghana has said that it will ‘soon’ adopt the use of the new Eco common currency which was declared by the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) for introduction in 2020.

Eight Economic Community of West African (ECOWAS) countries agreed to change the name of their common currency to Eco and discontinue the use of the CFA franc’s linked to former colonial ruler France.

The development was announced by the President of the UEMOA, his Excellency Alassane Ouattara President of the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire on December 22 during a visit by French President Emmanuel Macron to Ivory Coast.

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According to a statement by the Ghanaian government, signed by the Director of Communication, Eugene Arhin, the decision is a good testimony to the importance that is being attached not only to the establishment of a monetary union but also to the larger agenda of West African integration.

“This is a welcome decision, which Ghana warmly applauds. It is a good testimony to the importance that is being attached not only to the establishment of a monetary union but also to the larger agenda of West African integration.

“We, in Ghana, are determined to do whatever we can to enable us to join the Member States of UEMOA, soon, in the use of the ECO, as, we believe, it will help remove trade and monetary barriers, reduce transaction costs, boost economic activity, and raise the living standards of our people.”

The Ghanaian government urged other Member State of ECOWAS to work rapidly towards implementing the decisions of the authorities, including “adopting a flexible exchange rate regime, instituting a federal system for the ECOWAS Central Bank, and other related agreed convergence criteria, to ensure that we achieve the single currency objectives of ECOWAS, as soon as possible, for all Member States.

“We have a historic opportunity to create a new reality for the peoples of ECOWAS, a reality of general prosperity and progress. So, let us seize it,” it stressed.

Terrorism Is Greatest Challenge Facing ECOWAS, Says Buhari

President Buhari with Togo President, Faure Gnassingbe, Burkina Faso President , Roch Marc Kabore, Guinea Conakry President, Alpha Conde and Gambia President, Adama Barrow during the 55th Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the ECOWAS in Abuja on 21st Dec 2019. Credit: STATE HOUSE

 

President Muhammadu Buhari says the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is confronted with the greatest challenge of terrorism.

Buhari made this known on Saturday during the 56th Ordinary Session of ECOWAS Authority of Heads of state and Government in Abuja.

He also lamented the recent killing of about 70 military personnel by terrorists in neighbouring Niger Republic.

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The Nigerian leader also reiterated his administration’s commitment in developing initiatives for inclusive economic growth among the people of the region.

Participants at the session included the President of the ECOWAS commission, Jean-claude Kassi Brou, the Chairman of the Authority and President of Niger Republic Issoufou Mahamadou.

Others were former Head of State Yakubu Gowon, President of the African Development Bank, Akinwunmi Adesina as well as the Representative of the United Nations’ Secretary General, Mohamed Ibn Chambas.

President Buhari Joins Other African Leaders For ECOWAS Session Today

President Buhari with R-L: Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama, President of Niger Mahamadou Issoufou and ECOWAS President Jean Claude Brou during the 55th Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the ECOWAS in Abuja on 21st Dec 2019. Credit: State House

 

President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday joined other African leaders for the 56th Ordinary Session of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Authority of Heads of state and Government.

The President arrived at 11:08am for the Banquet Hall venue of the State House in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

In his welcoming address, the President said the greatest challenge facing the Ecowas region is terrorism, citing the recent killing of about 70 military personnel in Niger Republic.

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He however restated the Nigerian government’s commitment towards devising new strategies and initiatives for inclusive economic growth among the people of the region.

Participants at the session included the President of the ECOWAS commission, Jean-claude Kassi Brou, the Chairman of the Authority and President of Niger Republic Issoufou Mahamadou.

Others were former Head of State Yakubu Gowon, President of the African Development Bank, Akinwunmi Adesina as well as the Representative of the United Nations’ Secretary General, Mohamed Ibn Chambas.