President Muhammadu Buhari has called for deeper integration among the member states of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, especially on the economic growth of the sub-region.
“We need to fast track the integration process, and the most effective way to do so is through accelerated and focused investments in key development sectors, including but not limited to energy, transportation, as well as road and rail networks”, he said.
The Nigeria President made this call yesterday in his speech at the 40th anniversary celebration of the body held in Abuja. President Buhari urged member states to push existing initiatives and adopt new
ones, noting that “insufficient power supply has been identified as a major obstacle to investments in the region”.
Continuing, he said, “As we make individual efforts to boost power supply in our respective countries, we should accelerate the implementation of critical infrastructure such as the West African gas pipeline project,
while remaining committed to the promotion of alternative and renewable energy sources”.
According to him, urgent steps need to be taken to encourage intra – regional trade among member states in order to boost employment generation and trade relations.
On the challenges of climate change in the sub-region, he stressed the need to continue to coordinate actions with other African countries in partnership with the rest of the world to reduce global warming without compromising the region’s industrial development drive.
Speaking on terrorism and crime, he said, “Our region continues to be confronted with the daunting scourge of transnational organized crime including arms trafficking, drug trafficking, as well as piracy and criminality at sea. Equally worrying is the rising scourge of violent extremism and terrorism. All this constitute serious threats to peace and security in the region, and therefore require sustained focus and
concerted actions”.
Buhari charged his colleagues to imbibe the culture and system of governance in collaboration with partners to accelerate the implementation of joint initiatives and mechanisms that were created to address these daunting but not insurmountable risks.
“We must enhance cooperation with other regional and continental organisations such as the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Gulf of Guinea Commission (GGC), and the African Union particularly in the fight against violent extremism, terrorism and piracy”, he said. He however, reminded the leadership of ECOWAS that beyond politics, the economic integration of the region must remain the fundamental objective of this Organisation. “We need to accelerate our efforts towards achieving monetary union by meeting the convergence criteria while member–states should strive to key into the Common External Tariff, which came into being this year”.
Despite notable achievements within the commission and other institutions of the community, Buhari opined that there is an urgent need for structural reforms and capacity building in order to enhance
efficiency improve transparency and build confidence. For him, “accountability and doing more with less should be the hallmark of the ECOWAS Commission. The ECOWAS Parliament needs to be empowered to make laws rather than operating as an advisory body, while the ECOWAS Court of Justice should be strengthened to enable it deliver on its mandate”, he submitted.
It could be recalled that ECOWAS was founded on 28 May 1975 with the signing of the Treaty of Lagos, in Lagos, Nigeria. It was established by the founding fathers to promote cooperation and integration, as well as economic growth and development in West Africa.

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