WELCOME ADDRESS BY PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI
AT THE 48TH ORDINARYSESSION OF THE ECOWAS SUMMIT OF HEADS OF STATE AND GOVERNMENT
ABUJA, 16 DECEMBER 2015
➢ The Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority
➢ Fellow Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS
➢ Distinguished Representatives of Heads of State, and Government
➢ Honourable Ministers
➢ Excellency, President of the ECOWAS Commission
➢ Statutory Appointees of ECOWAS Institutions
➢ Invited Guests
➢ Representatives of International Organizations,
➢ Members of the Diplomatic Corps
➢ Members of the Press
➢ Distinguished Guests
➢ Ladies and Gentlemen
I am pleased to welcome you all to Abuja for the 48th Ordinary Session of the Summit of the Economic Community of West African States. Allow me, your Excellencies, to pay tribute to President Kafando and the entire members of his Transitional Government for the laudable efforts they deployed in the implementation of the Transitional Charter and the conduct of successful elections in Burkina Faso.
2. This is yet another demonstration of the Community’s commitment to the principle of democracy and good governance. While we wish President Kafando every success in his future endeavours, we congratulate, once again, President-elect Roch Marc Christian Kabore and wish him well in the governance of his country.
3.Let me recall that the election in Burkina Faso completed the cycle of 2015 presidential elections in the region, successfully conducted in my country-Nigeria, Togo, Guinea, and Cote d’Ivoire. This remarkable achievement reflects our collective resolve to entrench democracy and good governance in the region. As we prepare for more general elections in the coming year, I assure Your Excellencies that Nigeria will remain steadfast in its commitment and support to democracy and good governance. We believe that a politically stable West Africa can only be strong and prosperous.
4.The convening of this Summit in Abuja is a great honour and privilege for the Government and people of Nigeria. I sincerely thank my brothers, Heads of State and Government for accepting Nigeria to host this unique Summit, which is taking place as we celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the founding of our Organization.
5. I would like to express my warm appreciation to my brother, H.E. Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal and Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority for his statesmanship and able leadership since he took over 7 months ago. Let me also thank the President of the ECOWAS Commission, the Commissioners and staff members for efforts deployed in the preparation of this Summit.
6.Over the years, our Organization has recorded concrete achievements which loudly speak for themselves. ECOWAS has indeed been universally acclaimed as a model regional economic community.
7. In spite of the significant achievements, our Community still faces numerous challenges. While some militate against the integration drive, others continue to pose risks to peace and security, as well as political stability in the region. There are also structural and administrative challenges in running the Commission that equally require serious attention.
8.Security challenges persist in our region as we continue to be confronted with the daunting scourge of transnational organized crime including arms trafficking, drug trafficking, as well as piracy and criminality at sea. Equally worrying is the rising scourge of violent extremism and terrorism. All this constitute serious threats to peace and security in the region, and therefore require our urgent and concerted actions.
9. Regional and indeed global solidarity is vital in our efforts to counter these threats. To this end, we must continue to enhance our system of governance and, working with our partners, accelerate the implementation of our joint initiatives and mechanisms created to address these daunting but not insurmountable risks. As we do so, we should not relent in our effort to engage with member states coming out of crises, in order to help them to consolidate on the achievements made.
10. The catastrophic consequences of climate change are manifest in our region. A number of fragilities, conflicts and environmental degradation that affect our countries today with serious negative impact on peace, security, economy and livelihoods are either directly or indirectly triggered by climate change. Alone, we will not be able to reverse or stop some of these consequences, as it requires huge investment of resources far beyond our capabilities.
11. We should therefore continue to press for international assistance and to work with the rest of the world to protect the environment. We should do so without loosing focus on our industrial development objectives. Our efforts to fast track regional integration should also be informed by the requirement for clean source of energy. In this regard, I welcome the agreed outcome of the just concluded COP21 in Paris, which aims at reducing global warming and providing for financial support to developing nations.
12. We must also continue to cooperate with our development partners, and take advantage of their willingness to support our initiatives to address all these challenges in the most appropriate and beneficial ways to our region and to global peace and security.
13. Nigeria would like to see that on-going reforms in ECOWAS institutions are concluded and firmly entrenched to ensure greater effectiveness in leading the integration process. We would like to see that the resources of the Community are devoted to the implementation of economic programs that would enable us build a prosperous region.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen
14. Let me conclude by expressing my strong belief in the vast potentialities of our region. I remain confident that under the leadership of the Chairman of the Authority of Heads of State and Government, H.E. Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal, our Community will continue to make steady progress towards achieving the goals for which it was founded; a community that gives hope to the present and future generations.
15. I also express deep gratitude to our bilateral and multi lateral partners for their continued support and cooperation.
16. I wish us all fruitful deliberations. And please accept my best wishes for a happy festive season.
17. I thank you.