Former Nigerian Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon
Leaders’ Will-Power Drives ECOWAS Success – Gowon
MONROVIA, May 27 (LINA) -Former Nigerian Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, has attributed the success of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to the “strong will power” of the sub-regional leaders.
He told participants at the 40th Anniversary of ECOWAS in Abuja, Nigeria that the formation of the economic bloc should not just be attributed to him and former President Gnassingbe Eyadema of Togo, as is usually done, but to all the 15 West African Heads of State who signed the Treaty of Lagos to establish ECOWAS on May 18, 1975.
According to a dispatch, the keynote speaker, former Nigerian Foreign Minister, Professor A. Bolaji Akinyemi, paid particular homage to former Liberian President William V.S. Tubman for his initial proposal in 1965 to form a West African Economic Community with Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
On the theme: “Nigeria, ECOWAS Celebrating The Economics of Unity,” other speakers praised Nigeria’s enormous contributions to ECOWAS, including its leading role in ECOMOG, which successfully restored peace to Liberia and Sierra Leone, and Nigeria’s current interventions in Mali and Guinea Bissau.
ECOMOG, a sub-regional peacekeeping force, interventions in Liberia and Sierra Leone were the first time a regional African body imposed peace through military means.
This subsequently encouraged ECOWAS leaders to revise the 1975 Treaty to include political matters that widened the scope of regional integration.
Welcoming the dignitaries, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Nigeria, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, reiterated his country’s commitment to ECOWAS by hosting of three important institutions of ECOWAS: the ECOWAS Commission, the ECOWAS Parliament and the Community Court of Justice.
Also speaking, the Foreign Minister of Nigeria, Ambassador Aminu Wali extolled ECOWAS as a pace-setter in the integration agenda which, he said, is manifested in the democracy, peace and security sectors.
He indicated that the adoption and use of a common passport and a visa-free regime made possible by the ECOWAS Protocol on Free Movement of Persons and Goods; the right of residence in Member States, and recently the Common External Tariffs by Member States should set the regional body above others in Africa.
During the occasion, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Kadre Desire Ouedraogo, said the formation of the regional economic body was born out of the realization of the founding fathers that the domestic markets of the individual member states were not big enough to compete in the world market, including large trade blocs like the European Community at that time.