President Goodluck Jonathan has lamented the spate of terrorism and the ravaging Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the West African sub region even as he called for the cooperation of the member states of the ECOWAS to combat them.
Jonathan, in his remarks at the 40th ordinary session of the ECOWAS held in Abuja yesterday, said though the body has been able to make remarkable achievements in stabilizing the polity in some member states, it still faces the daunting task of combating the incidence of increase in proliferation of arms and light weapons in the Sahel Region.
Jonathan said “While acknowledging that many achievements may have been recorded in the area of democracy and economic growth, I must also admit that our sub-region continues to face many serious challenges. Prominent among these challenges before us today is the ravaging Ebola epidemic. The last six (6) months have witnessed the negative impact of the Ebola Virus Disease(EVD) on the region.
“Since its outbreak in March, this year, the disease has resulted in over seven thousand (7,000) deaths apart from negatively impacting our economies. I, therefore, call on member-states as well as our development partners and the international community, at large, to contribute generously to the ECOWAS Regional Solidarity funds to fight the Ebola Virus Disease.
Equally worrisome is the rising scourge of terrorism which now threatens the peace and security of our sub-region. In the Sahel Region, we have witnessed the increasing proliferation of small arms and light weapons. As a result, countries in the region are today threatened by insurgents and terrorists. Their actions have dire consequences for the continuing peace, stability and prosperity of the region.”
The President added that the Gulf of Guinea area is being faced with the challenge of piracy, drug trafficking, oil bunkering and human traffic. He however called for stronger and more effective regional, continental and global alliance to rid the West Africa subregion of terrorism, piracy and violent extremism.
While advocating for structural reforms in order to enhance capacity and improve transparency within the community’s institutions, Jonathan advocated for diversification of members states revenue base and reduction of imports in the face of rapid changes in the global arena.
He noted “Internally, within the Community Institutions, there is an urgent need for structural reforms in order to enhance capacity and improve transparency. Activities of our Organisation must conform to global best practices to strengthen confidence and assure growth. More importantly, we must diversify our revenue base and reduce our imports in the face of rapid changes in the global arena. It cannot continue to be business as usual, if our Organisation is to fulfill the vision of our founding fathers.”
He cautioned “As we prepare to mark the 40th anniversary celebration of our community in 2015, we must not forget that beyond politics, the economic development and integration of our region must remain the fundamental objective of our Organisation. We must, therefore, accelerate our efforts toward monetary union by striving to meet the convergence criteria and achieving the harmonization of tariff regimes.”