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ECOWAS Chair worries over regional threats

The Chair of the Economic Community of West African States or ECOWAS, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has expressed fears that the proliferation of global terrorism is a real threat to the sub-region.

Addressing the official opening of the second session of ECOWAS Parliament in Abuja, Nigeria, via video link from the United Nations General Assembly in New York Thursday September 22, President Sirleaf noted that recent events in the Lake Chad Basin, Mali, Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire, showed that the rise of terror is a vivid reminder for an urgent counter terrorism strategy to be enunciated and sustained.

The ECOWAS Chairperson also added that amidst the rise of terror within the region is the youth bulge in the demographics of Member States.  She said the teeming youth population of the region, majority of who are unemployed, is the proverbial devil’s workshop.

President Sirleaf said protocols intended to combat terrorism, harassment of peaceful marketers who are engaged in border trade would help with the integration policies of the region. The ECOWAS Chairperson urged the region’s parliament to double its strength in making sure that some of the protocols to fight against some of the vices are put in to place.

She bemoaned that many protocols passage have slow, something she noted needs to be addressed speedily. However, President Sirleaf commended the parliamentarians 83 of whom were present out of the 115 for adopting a four-year strategic plan that aligns its activities with the Community Strategic Framework or CSF during this extraordinary session.

“It is axiomatic that your noble plans, in many respects, are supportive of the fourfold priority, which I have outlined for our Community for 2016-17. They include consolidating our Community’s peace and security architecture, concluding negotiations and legal actions to enhance trade integration, agriculture and infrastructure development, and improving the financial stability of Community institutions,” the president said.

She expressed her unwavering support in developing the required institutional and Community-wide synergies to ensure that leaders in the region work shoulder-to-shoulder in delivering the results of these mutually reinforcing goals for the benefit of all citizens within the region.

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The ECOWAS head also pointed out the need to fast track the regional collaboration with international partners in building regional capacities for investment promotion, liberalizing trade, and concluding negotiations for the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) and the Economic Partnership Agreements.

According to the Chairperson, plan seeks to ensure the participation and representation of all member states in the decision making process of the Community.   Also speaking at the opening, Sierra Leone’s Speaker ShekuBadaraDumbuya said that beyond the microcosm of ad hoc solidarity and collaboration is the vision of regional integration, a goal that the parliament for the close 16 years, though anomalously without legislative power, kept in view.

According to him, the eventual designing and attainment of the golden regional crown, unbreakable, enduring for the gains of economic prosperity and general well-being conscientiously stand upon the humble service of excellent, selfless and patriotic personalities that are purposefully committee to the good governance of the people.

The Sierra Leonean speaker added that the measure of good governance is very open; it cannot be masked. “It is not islanded, palatable, lavish living rising up to the deep blue skies from a muddy sea of dirt poverty. It is the dramatic presence of all round decency and popular good living secure throughout the democratic region in grand and beneficial extension sovereignty. For, as we all know, the practice of governance through political power cannot correctly be defined as a forceful,” Speaker Dumbuya.

ECOWAS is a regional body set up in 1975 to enhance economic and monetary Integration, aimed at achieving economic, monetary integration in all its forms; political integration, aimed at ensuring peace, security and good governance; societal/institutional support, aimed at enhancing societal/institutional capacities for building sustainable society/institutions and expanding and Improving Infrastructural Facilities, aimed at increasing access to the usage of infrastructural facilities.

By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Edited by Othello B. Garblah

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