President Muhammadu Buhari has stressed the need for Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) leaders to forge stronger solidarity to address the new challenges, including the current third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and its Omicron variant.
The president made the call at the 60th Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS in Abuja, yesterday.
He said: “Today’s realities remind us of the need to continue to forge stronger solidarity in order to address the new challenges, including the current third wave of the pandemic and its Omicron variant.
“I am glad ECOWAS commission and the West Africa Health Organisation are continuing to work with our respective national disease control centres to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on our people and sub-region
“At this 60th Ordinary Session, we have before us several issues of critical importance to the community as listed on our agenda.
“I would therefore, urge us to carefully consider the issues to be presented to us and take well informed concrete decisions for the welfare and well-being of our peoples and the future of our community.’’
The Nigerian leader noted that the sub-region had continued to face socio-economic, political, security, and environmental realities linked to coronavirus pandemic.
“The challenges of coronavirus and the catastrophic consequences posed on our socio-economic environment continues to torment us.
“The regional resilience, determination and resolution of working together in solidarity with each other, assisted us greatly to lessen the burden of the pandemic,” he said.
He added that democracy was being challenged in Mali and Guinea, adding that threats were looming around environmental degradation and climate change on farming system in the sub-region.
“We are facing a network of criminals, including terrorism. All of these challenges require our collective action to work in concert with each other to programmatically address and provide our people better prospects in life.
“As a people, we aspire to create a borderless, peaceful, prosperous and where people have the capacity to access and harness its resources through the creation of opportunities for sustainable development, job creation and environmental preservation.’’
Buhari used the opportunity to pay tribute to President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana and chair of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government for “the purposeful leadership, commitment and energy he continues to exert on our behalf to resolve the challenges confronting our organisation.
“Despite the enormity of these challenges, our chair has navigated us well and continues to do so. We owe him enormous gratitude.’’
Akufo-Addo noted that the 60th ordinary session was convened within the confines of a ravaging pandemic, and increased threats from terrorist groups.
He said the bloc must take decisions on political, socio-economic insecurity issue, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the threshold jihadism, violent extremists, and the military interventions in Mali and Guinea Bissau.
“As of December 8, our region has recorded 674,556 cases of infections with some 10,000 deaths,” he said.
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