President Muhammadu Buhari has stated that only sustainable economic growth and job creation within the ECOWAS region will guarantee peace and quench incessant migration.
Buhari stated this on Saturday in Abuja, while addressing 15 ECOWAS leaders during the 52nd Ordinary summit of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of States and Government.
The Nigerian President noted that there are incessant reports of increased activities in human trafficking, proliferation of illegal weapons, drug trafficking, capital flight, increase in tue activities of Boko Haram and Al’Qeda terrorists perpetuated by syndicated,
but said that a strong economy and sustained economic growth and job creation for the youths in the region remain the only viable antidote to these menace, while also calling for prudent resource management.
“In the wake of the recent recession and economic challenges faced by ECOWAS Member States, as evidenced by the severe drop in real growth rate for ECOWAS from 6.1% in 2014 and 3.3% in 2015, to an alarming rate of 0.2% in 2016,
there is an urgent need to review the spending patterns of all the Community Institutions, to ensure that dwindling resources are put to good economic use for the optimization of strategic goals of the Community,” he said.
He reported that the Federal Government, in collaboration with International Organization for Migration, is repatriating Nigerians stranded in Libya; and had ordered National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, to ensure their rehabilitation and resettlement.
Long- term solution, according to Buhari, is security and sustainable economic development which will create jobs and deter the youth from such venture.
“The long- term solution to these challenges is to create the condition of peace and security in our countries and sustainable development of our economies.
Only through these can we create jobs and other conditions in which our youths would have no excuse to embark on the suicidal venture of irregular migration,” Buhari stated.
He called on all other ECOWAS presidents to put more efforts towards greater integration of the region.
In his remarks the President of ECOWAS Commission, Marcel A. de Souza reported that the commission has spent significant revenue to quell insurgency in the region and also called on member countries to fulfill their commitments to the commission.
“Significant revenue of these countries and the Commission is diverted to fight insurgency. In Guinea Bissau, money has been spent towards institutional harmony and political stability in the country but it is unfortunate that the problem is yet to be abated” Souza said.
He reported that about $101 million, including $84 million from the commission has been spent on the political crises in Guinea Bissau and the commission is still owing $45 million.
On the Gambia, he reported that sustainable peace keeping of the country leaves the commission in indebtedness.
On Togo, he said that the forces have agreed to work together and ensure a smooth political process.
He equally reported that the Commission has received great help from President Ellen Johnson -Sirleaf who has worked hard for the establishment of the Ecowas radio station and has handed it over to commission.
On the entrance of new members, the commission, he said, requires the support of member nations to be able to support good governance and the institutional reforms they started in 2010 which member countries have ordered.
The Special Representative of UN Secretary General for West Africa and Sahel (UNOWAS), Mohammed IBN Chambers, in his address said that the challenges in the sub-region be it terrorism, farmers herders clash, modern slavery etc must be resisted.
“The UN will encourage the multinational joint task force such that the successes recorded in the fight against the Boko Haram can be replicated across the Sahel.
“The UN will continue to support efforts at true justice, peace and national reconciliation,” he stated.
Also in his remarks the Chairperson of African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat said that Ecowas region “is one of the most dynamic region which plays up in regional integration and trade”
but regretted that despite all integration, the level of trade among Ecowas countries is very low. He called for support for the free trade area and treaty in the region.
He went further to say that the establishment of a single air transport for the African Continent initiated in 1999 has the support of some African and Ecowas countries and urged all the countries in Ecowas to support the initiative.
On terrorism in the region he said that “the fight against terrorism should he backed by reviewing all the factors that led to its emergence.
“We cannot have ownership of our programmes when it is being financed by other regions and institutions.”
The Chairman of ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Togolese President, Faure Essozimna Gnassingbe, in his address, urged all member nations to build their democracy, just as he made case for a one single currency for the region.
“We shall continue to pursue peace building and regional terrorism and strengthen the fight against terrorism. With the lunching of quality of products and services in Nigeria, our region is going to bounce back as a leading and viable economy and we shall encourage free movement of persons, goods and capital” he emphasised.
All the president of the 15 ECOWAS countries including the President of Mauritania, a country that earlier left the region; and is seeking re-entry; and the President of Tunisia, an ECOWAS observer nation were present.