The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, was on Monday elected Chairman of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), at the 57th ECOWAS Summit held in Niamey, Niger.
The President, who was elected unanimously by his peers, takes over the mantle of leadership from the President of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, for a period of one year.
Following in the footsteps of his predecessors, Presidents Jerry John Rawlings, John Agyekum Kufuor, and John Dramani Mahama, who also had similar privilege to lead the sub-continental body, President Akufo-Addo in his remark, thanked the Assembly for the honour, and assured member states that he would do his utmost not to let the side down, as he would discharge his duties to the best of his abilities.
“Excellencies, I am fully aware of the challenges which confront West Africa. Past leaders of ECOWAS have demonstrated their collective will and determination to drive the agenda of regional integration, opening up our economic frontiers, encouraging healthy competition amongst Member States, and ensuring that we adhere to our formative principles.
“As much as considerable progress has been made since the establishment of ECOWAS, some 45 years ago, we are all agreed that there is much more to be done to consolidate the socio-economic and political gains made over the years.”
According to President Akufo-Addo, five immediate challenges face the regional organisation, ECOWAS, for which Member States must address.
He listed them as the continuing activities of terrorists in the region, concentrated, for the time being, in the Sahelian area, involving Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and the northern parts of Nigeria; the COVID-19 pandemic, which has attacked the populations and economies of each of the Member States; the imminent coming into force of the African Continental Free Trade Area on January 1, 2021; the 2020 decision on monetary union within the ECOWAS space; and the consolidation of democratic governance in the face of the turbulent conditions of the Community.
“The challenges, in these critical regional spheres, such as security, economy, trade, currency and health, must be addressed in a spirit of genuine co-operation and solidarity, if we are to succeed in overcoming them, which we can.
“In so doing, we must protect, at all costs, our freedom and independence of action, so that the development of our Community responds to the needs and aspirations of our peoples, and not to the goals of external agencies and forces.
“I am confident that, by the grace of God, I can count on the unstinting support of each one of Your Excellencies in navigating the immediate future of our Community,” he added.
The Ghanaian Times commends the President for his assumption of the Chairmanship of ECOWAS and outlining the clear goals he would be pursuing in his one-year tenure.
As already stated, the task ahead is daunting but we have no doubt that the President, with his vast experience in diplomacy and governance would be able to lead in resolving some of the perennial problems of the sub-region.
We see in the President an asset that the sub-region can utilise to deal with some of the challenges to achieve results.
With co-operation from fellow Heads of State and the willingness to implement regional decisions, such as the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme and other protocols, the new ECOWAS Chairman would definitely succeed.
When that happens, the entire sub-region and its people would be the beneficiaries.
Once again we congratulate the President on his assumption of office as the Chairman of ECOWAS.