President Goodluck Jonathan was the centre of attraction yesterday as West African leaders converged on Accra, Ghana for the 47th Ordinary Session of The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Authority of Heads of State and Government.
This is as all the speakers at the opening session of the meeting took time to lavish praises on the President for not only working hard to promote peace and democracy in Guinea Bissau, Mali, Cote d’Ivoire and other sister nations, but also for guiding Nigeria through a tensed electioneering period which ended peacefully.
First to speak was host President, John Dramani Mahanma, who expressed the satisfaction of the international community about the peaceful outcome of the general elections in Nigeria and Togo.
“Ladies and gentlemen, at our summit, I informed you that five member states of our sub-region would hold elections this year. We are extremely proud of the elections held so far in two of our member states.
“I salute the people of Nigeria and Togo for the peaceful elections held in those countries. This sends a strong message to the world that our protocol on democracy and good governance is effective and has strengthened the rule of law in our sub-region.
“Let me on your behalf take this opportunity to highly commend our brother, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan for his personal show of mature statesmanship in the event that followed the presidential election held in Nigeria.
I believe his name will be recorded in a special place when the history of Nigeria’s democracy comes to be written.
“Let me also on this occasion salute Gen. Muhammadu Buhari for his victory in the presidential election,” he said.
“The Ghanaian also expressed concern that despite the efforts of multinational force and other stakeholders to defeat the Boko Haram sect in Nigeria, the sect has refused to go away especially as the missing Chibok school girls were yet to be found.
“On behalf of ECOWAS, I wish to thank the leadership of the Economic Community of the Central African States (ECAS) for their support and contribution to this fight.
“We look forward to the proposed joint summit of ECOWAS and ECAS to formulate a joint plan for defeating and eventually eliminating the Boko Haram threat,” he added.
“While acknowledging the progress of the sub region in the area of democracy, free movement, Ebola control and others, Mahanma said the close door session would focus on peace and security, location of the Centre for Disease Control in West Africa, the crises in Mali, 40th anniversary which comes up on May 28 and others.
The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General, Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambas expressed the appreciation of the world body to Jonathan’s sacrifices and contribution to peace in the sub region.
“Let me begin by commending the role of ECOWAS and its leadership in close cooperation with the United Nations towards the peaceful holding of recent general elections in Nigeria and Togo.
As this marks the final summit of President Goodluck Jonathan, I wish to send our sincere appreciation for his valuable contributions to regional integration, maintenance of peace and security in a West Africa, most notably in Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea and Mali,” he said.
President of the ECOWAS Commission, Kadre Desire Ouedraogo who spoke in the same vein said the Commission would never forget President Jonathan for his contribution to sub regional peace and stability.
He also eulogized Nigeria’s elder statesman and former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (rtd) over his contribution to the formation and growth of ECOWAS.
He said: “In this year, when ECOWAS is celebrating its 40th year of existence. I would like to pay tribute to former head of state, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, our special guest who unfortunately is unable to join us today (yesterday). He has continued to generously share with us his vast and rich experience and deep knowledge in the pursuit of the integration agenda. As i pay tribute to him in all respect and deference. I also mention all the architects of a viable regional economic community today, filed with promise for a glorious tomorrow
I think first of the increased credibility that ECOWAS has received due to the conduct of the presidential election in Nigeria and the manner in which it was concluded. We owe this to the choices made by two main players, President Goodkuck Ebele Jonathan and General Muhammadu Buhari to place the general interest of the country above theirs.
In joining the well deserved tribute paid by the current chairman to the presidents and the Nigerian people, I also wish to express to them my very best wishes and sincere gratitude for the interest and attention they have paid to the recommendations made by our organization during the electoral process. In speaking particularly to His Excellency, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, I wish to assure him that the commission will never forget his crucial contribution in the management and resolution of crises n Guinea Bisau, Mali, and Burkina Faso as well as in the fight against the Ebola virus disease among other challenging matters.
“I am confident that nothing will come to make us forget the great pride Nigeria has brought us only a few weeks ago.”
Yesterday’s meeting was not only President Jonathan’s first since losing election on March 28, it also served as his valedictory appearance in an ECOWAS meeting as Head of State.
Also present at the Summit were Presidents Faure Essozinma Gnassingbe (Togo) Mohammadou Issoufou (Niger), Michael Kafanbo (Burkina Faso), Ellen Johnson- Sirleaf (Liberia) Alhassane Outtara (Cote d’ Ivoire), Ibrahim Keita (Mali), Ernest Bai Koroma (Sierra Leone) and Macky Sall(Senegal).
Others were Vice President of The Gambia, Aja Dr Isatou Njie-Saidy Prime Minister of Cape Verde, Jose Maria Neves, Minister of Foreign Affairs in Republic of Guinea, Lousceny Fall, Minister of Defence in Guinea Bissau, Madam Filomena Mascarenas Yipote and Minister of Foreign Affairs from Benin Republic, Afrifari Bako.

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