ECOWAS and the Federal Republic of Nigeria have stressed the need to continue working together for the stability, peace and security of the West African region.
The renewed faith in closer collaboration was voiced by both the Chair of the Authority of the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the Nigerian Leader President Muhammed Buhari at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja, Nigeria on the 5th of December 2016.
Chairperson Sirleaf, also the president of Liberia was in Nigeria to be updated on the focus, direction and challenges of the work at the ECOWAS Commission. In the course of her mission, she met with senior officials of ECOWAS institutions as part of preparations for the reports to be made at the Summit of the Authority of the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government planned for December 2016 in Abuja.
Conferring with President Muhammadu Buhari at the instance of the ECOWAS Commission President Marcel de Souza, Chairperson Sirleaf said she cherishes the opportunity to brief the Nigerian leader on some of her findings during two days of consultations with the commission and to also share with him issues of political and economic development as well the maintenance of peace and stability.
“I can also accept his wise counsel as to how we all go about working together as a unified region towards achieving our goals” She added
Responding, president Buhari congratulated Chairperson Sirleaf for her forthrightness in handling ECOWAS affairs and the growing stability in the region despite the many challenges that the Commission and other ECOWAS institutions are grappling with.
Pledging Nigeria’s support for ECOWAS initiatives aimed at achieving greater integration, President Buhari agreed that the situation in the region is relatively stable but stressed the need for patience and accommodation while persuading all “to show appreciation of the efforts of ECOWAS in making sure that more attention is paid to security and development”
At an earlier meeting with staff of the ECOWAS Commission, chairperson Sirleaf urged the ECOWAS workforce to continue to raise the community banner aloft and to take ECOWAS up in the global arena with commitment to high work ethics and standards as well as unflagging dedication to duty.
The ECOWAS Commission staff responded positively to president de Souza’s submission that “human resources is the best capital any organization can have”. The Staff Representative Dr. Tony Elumelu extolled the leadership qualities of Madam Sirleaf and shared the optimism of the ECOWAS workforce of a better deal in the days ahead.
Conferring with the Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament Mustapha Cisse Lo and senior officials, President Sirleaf who took in briefings on the Parliament’s programmes and strides, stressed among others, the need for a closer look at resource mobilization as compelled by changing global situations. She accepted to receive a high powered parliamentary delegation in Monrovia in April 2017.
Chairperson Sirleaf also met the President of the ECOWAS Court of Justice Jérôme Traoré and other judges of the Community judicial Institution. After a closed door session, she urged ECOWAS Community judges to protect the rights of citizens noting that if all is done to protect such rights, there would be no need to seek redress in another institution.
Maintaining that equity must also be gender sensitive, she told the gathering at the Community court room: “Justice is a fundamental right of every individual and every state. We have felt the result of injustice and have seen how it can manifest negatively on the progress of societies”
President Sirleaf who was flanked at all the events by President de Souza, the vice president of the ECOWAS Commission Mr. Edward Singhatey, Liberian Foreign Affairs Minister Marjon Kamara, Commissioners in charge of ECOWAS Departments and other senior officials, rounded up her familiarization tour by assuring the media that ECOWAS would do all it can to be on top of all the economic and political challenges in the region including complex situations such as has arisen in Guinea Bissau.
While in Abuja, Chairperson Sirleaf was also given gifts (an artwork of the famous artist Modupeola Fadugbe) by the ECOWAS staff an another by the women of the ECOWAS Court of Justice in solidarity with her vision, exemplary leadership and sensitivity to gender matters.
President Sirleaf is the pioneer female leader to chair the Authority of the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government and also the first in that capacity to meet directly with an assembly of staff of ECOWAS