ECOWAS AT 45: REGIONAL INTEGRATION AGENDA HALTED BY COVID-19

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Like any regional power bloc, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) at its recent 45th anniversary celebration has reaffirmed its vision for a stronger and more dynamic integration.

During the occasion which has the theme “45 years of solidarity for the West African people”, ECOWAS recounted its journey towards solidarity and regional integration.

H.E. Jean-Claude KassiBrou, the President of Cote d’Ivoire and the current President of ECOWAS Commission stated that the Commission’s efforts towards the growth and development of the region were being hampered by terrorism, rendering assistance to the internally displaced and now COVID-19.

The President however, maintained that despite these challenges, the Commission has made progress towards actualizing the regional integration goal of the Commission in the areas of democracy, good governance and securityin the past 45 years.

On the way out of the economic challenges posed by COVID-19, Brou declared, “Every possible effort will be made to achieve the operationalization of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) originally scheduled for July 1, 2020, as it should provide us with the opportunity to build and consolidate new regional and continental supply chains and other opportunities, in the face of the difficulties that are being witnessed at the global level”.

While ECOWAS is celebrating its 45th anniversary, there are calls for Nigeria to re-ignite the galvanizing influence it has on the region to ensure its sustainability and stability.

It may be recalled that Nigeria, aside playing a leading role in the formation of ECOWAS,has wielded significant influence in the region from the inception to date. Nigeria’s impact has been well documented in various areas, including military assistance through ECOMOG (ECOWAS peacekeeping force), liberation of Liberia and Sierra Leone, restoration of peace in Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Guinea Bissau and Burkina Faso; not forgetting the significant role of Nigeria during the Ebola outbreak. 

The integration and economic stability of ECOWAS is heavily dependent on Nigeria’s economic buoyancy. Nigeria has been the major financial contributor of ECOWAS, with over 70% of the total ECOWAS budget coming from Nigeria.

ECOWAS was established on May 28th, 1975 has 15 member states whose citizens are free to move and live in any part of the region.

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