From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Following the modest gains recorded in sustaining peace and security among West African states, President Buhari has tasked Heads of State and Government of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), not to rock the boat.
According to him, responding to early warnings in order to develop an effective conflict prevention strategy remains the only means of deepening democracy among member states.
Buhari said this yesterday at the 50th Ordinary Session of the Authority and Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS meeting which held at the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja.
According to the President, promotion of peace, security and economic integration among member states could be sustainable only when greater attention is paid to conflict prevention mechanisms in the region.
He said beyond other considerations, it was much cheaper in the long run to prevent conflicts than to manage it. He commended the statesmanship displayed by President of Ghana, John Mahama, who conceded defeat and congratulated the president-elect Nana Akufo-Addo, at their recent presidential election. He also congratulated President of Cape Verde, Jorge Carlos Fonseca on his re-election. Buhari said since the launch of the ECOWAS Vision 2020 is meant to transform ECOWAS from ECOWAS of States to ECOWAS of peoples, the community has accomplished remarkable progress in achieving community objectives for a stable and prosperous West Africa.
Foremost amongst these achievements, he said, was the management of conflicts and the maintenance of peace, stability and security in the region. “As we all know, peace and security are the necessary ingredients for development as one cannot exist without the other.
“We have substantially enhanced our capacity for dealing with conflict as amply demonstrated in the quick interventions of the Community to douse tension and restore peace in Mali, Guinea-Bissau and Burkina Faso.
“The efforts of the Multi-National Joint Task Force, in combatting terrorism in Nigeria and in the neighboring countries, have significantly degraded the capacity of Boko Haram in the region, even though sporadic attacks on soft targets have been recorded in the past few weeks, just as we have sustained the military pressure on the terrorists,” he told the gathering.
On the economy, Buhari said West African nations are being challenged by globalization, this he said has manifested in low volume of trade, occasioned by declining level of economic activities.
Buhari attributed the situation to sharp fall in commodity prices, especially the fall of oil to 57 percent between June 2014 and January 2015.
“This ugly situation demands that we diversify our respective economies from commodities into other sectors such as banking, construction and telecommunications and most importantly agro–processing, manufacturing and services.
“As we adjust to a more challenging globalized environment, stronger efforts are required to increase domestic revenue mobilization in our countries and community institutions.
“Also member states must diversify their economies away from trade in commodities towards developing robust infrastructure that will support manufacturing and industrialization.
“To this end, I urge the community to invest more in infrastructure and human resources so as to unleash the potentials that exist in our respective economies and in our peoples,” he said.