Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has called on West Africa countries to embrace fully the lessons COPVID-19 teaches the region, as well as the direction it is pointing the countries.
He said, in particular, ECOWAS must remember that it has given a good sense of how important it is to strengthen the unity and solidarity.
Mr Akufo-Addo was speaking during the Virtual Summit 58th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, On Saturday, 23rd January 2021.
He said “Excellencies, 2020 was a particularly difficult year in our history and that of humanity, because of COVID-19. The pandemic has not spared any sector of our social, economic, humanitarian, financial, and security life.
“It continues to be even more devastating, particularly with the onset of the ‘second wave’, and the outbreak of a new variant of the virus in most parts of the world. Its negative impact has heightened and worsened the exogenous shocks affecting our region. The pandemic has brought in its wake unprecedented levels of difficulties for us all.
“However, far from viewing this situation as a disaster before which we are powerless, we must embrace fully the lessons it teaches us, as well as the direction it is pointing us. In particular, we must remember that it has given us a good sense of how important it is for us to strengthen our unity and solidarity.
“It has provided us with the avenue to be self-reliant, and it is a clarion call for us to remain faithful to the main objective of ECOWAS, which is to promote cooperation and integration for the well-being of our citizens.”
He added “We have shown considerable resilience and solidarity throughout the period, evidenced in the decisions taken on 23rd April 2020, at our Extraordinary Summit, which have helped to contain the spread of the virus in the Region.
“Let me thank sincerely our Champion on the Fight against COVID-19, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari, for the significant efforts made through the provision of COVID-19 medicines, medical equipment, and the deployment of human resources to our respective countries.
“Our appreciation goes to our foreign friends for their invaluable support, which ensured that the ECOWAS Commission and the West African Health Organisation (WAHO) were able to broaden their scope of support to the Member States as a complement to their efforts. The time has now come for us to work earnestly towards the vaccination of our populations. We need to send a strong signal to them, from this Summit, of our determination to protect them.
“Excellencies, the pandemic notwithstanding, we have preserved and strengthened the gains of regional integration, particularly in the area of consolidating democracy, pursuing the free movement of goods, and developing economic infrastructure.
“We continue to face critical security challenges with deadly terrorist attacks in Mali, northeastern Nigeria, Burkina Faso, and Niger. I reaffirm our strongest condemnation of these attacks in our Region and Community and deplore the activities of these criminals, terrorist groups. We sympathise and extend our deep condolences to affected countries and the families of the victims.
“These developments must reinforce our conviction that we must pursue, even more vigorously, the actions we have begun, with the rapid implementation of the decisions of our Extraordinary Summit on Terrorism, held on 14th September 2019.
“This concerted effort, which must be a major priority objective of the Community, is the best way for us to address collectively the security challenge, and give ourselves the means to ensure the security of the populations of our Community. Our dignity and our sovereignty are at stake.
“I thank all Member States that are making significant efforts to support our initiatives, in this regard, especially those that have begun to pay their financial contribution to the one billion United States dollar (US$1 billion) ECOWAS Regional Security Fund (ERSF), created in support of the 2020-2024 Anti-Terrorism Action Plan. Raising this money has to be a high priority for us, because it enables us to act independently in this crisis. Your Excellencies will recall that the 2019 Summit created the Fund to cover a five (5) year period, 2020-2024.”