ECOWAS delegation meets 'Mr. ECOWAS'

Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - An ECOWAS Commission delegation has paid a courtesy call on Prof. Adebayo Adedeji, Nigeria’s former Minister of Economic Development and the longest serving head of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), who played a pivotal role in the formation of ECOWAS through the Treaty of Lagos on 28 May 1975.

ECOWAS Vice President Toga McIntosh, accompanied by Ghana's renowned political economist Sam Asante, led the delegation to Prof. Adedeji’s hometown of Ijebu-Ode in South-west Nigeria on Monday, the ECOWAS Commission said in a statement obtained by PANA here Wednesday.

It said that during the ''nostalgic reunion'' between the Adedejis and two men who worked very closely with him at various times, Prof Adedeji went down memory lane on his motivation and conviction in the power of cooperation and integration as the key to development of post-independent Africa.

The former Nigerian minister who has been variously described as “a development pioneer,” “an African Cassandra,” “a master strategist,” and even a “rebel technocrat,” said he saw and still see cooperation and integration as the only option for Africa to overcome linguistic, political and economic barriers which the continent inherited from its colonial history.

He recalled the “shuttle diplomacy” to various capitals in the sub-region in his days as Minister (1971-75) soon after Nigeria’s civil war, and the critical roles played by Nigeria’s former leader Gen. Yakubu Gowon and his Togolese counterpart, Gnassingbé Eyadéma in the formation of ECOWAS.

Prof Adedeji, who was mentioned in a 2006 publication as one of the world’s 50 influential thinkers on development, was to take his integration campaign to the UNECA in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, serving as Under Secretary-General and Executive Secretary for 16 years (1975-91).

His dynamism under the UNECA platform resulted in the creation of two more Regional Economic Communities (RECs) - the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) in 1981 and 1983, respectively.

Although all the ideals of ECOWAS founding fathers might not have been met, Prof Adedeji is happy that citizens of the 15 member states see themselves today as belonging to one community.

“This is the only region in Africa where citizens can visit and stay in a country other than their own for at least 90 days without a visa,” he said, in a reference to ECOWAS’ flagship Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, Rights to Residence and Establishment.

Prof Adedeji, 82, called on ECOWAS member states to work toward the harmonization of policies, laws and regulations to consolidate regional integration.

Dr. McIntosh, Liberia’s former Foreign Minister with a long history of involvement in Africa’s development initiatives, said the courtesy visit was a tribute to Prof Adedeji’s total commitment and contributions to regional and continental integration.
-0- PANA SEG 5June2013

05 june 2013 09:01:35

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