Mr. Mahama, who had his mandate renewed after the expiry of the initial one-year term, was given a standing ovation by colleague Heads of State in recognition of his exemplary leadership in steering the affairs of the bloc.
Handing over the ECOWAS symbol, comprising a flag and a gavel to President Sall, President Mahama thanked his colleague Heads of State for the support and close co-operation he had from them during his tenure.
“I will be available to assist him and to offer my counsel anytime, just as I was also supported,” he said of his successor, President Sall, who has been given a one-year mandate.
President Mahama briefly spelt out some of the successes chalked up by the sub-regional body during his tenure, ranging from the success story of the Ebola outbreak, peaceful resolution of the Malian crisis and the Burkinabe imbroglio, to joint efforts to neutralise the threat posed by the Boko Haram Islamist insurgents.
A special message of commendation and gratitude to President Mahama was read by Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on behalf of the Ebola affected countries, for taking the bull by the horn, in rallying international support at the height of the epidemic outbreak.
President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria was also singled out for praise for graciously conceding to General Buhari by the West African leaders. The message of commendation was read on their behalf by Ghana’s Foreign Minister, Hannah Tetteh.
In his acceptance speech, the incoming ECOWAS Chair, President Macky Sall, pledged to always knock on the doors of his predecessors for guidance and counsel.
He pledged to carry on from where they had left off to the best of his ability, and stressed the need to quicken the pace of the integration agenda.
Meanwhile in a final communiqué issued at the end of the summit, the ECOWAS leaders have signaled their readiness to establish the proposed Centre for Disease Control which would have its headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria.
The communiqué said, the centre would be under the auspices of the West African Health Organisation.
It urged member states to sign unto the Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union to enable its implementation, and lauded the out-going Chair, John Mahama, for overseeing the successful holding of elections in Nigeria and Togo, as well as his input in diffusing the tension in Burkina Faso, following former President Compaore’s unpopular decision to stand for re-election.
By Samuel Nuamah