Nigeria: ECOWAS parliament meets in Ghana, task leaders on security, employment

Abuja, Nigeria (PANA) – A two-day dialogue session on the challenges of border crossing and opportunities for trade and finance for ECOWAS parliament member countries has begun in Accra, Ghana.

The dialogue is being organised by the Abuja-based Nigerian National Institute for Legislative Studies.

As part of the dialogue session, Speaker, ECOWAS Parliament and Nigeria’s Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, met with the new chairman of ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, President John Dramani Mahama of Ghana, tasking him to make the war against terrorism and youth unemployment top priorities of his tenure.

Ekweremadu called for an urgent summit of heads of state and government of both ECOWAS and the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) in order to build synergy and raise the capacity of member states to combat common enemies, especially terrorist groups and other trans-border criminals.

The ECOWAS Parliament speaker told the Ghanaian President that “Ghana is a very important country in this sub-region. In terms of democracy, you hold the light in this sub-region and we believe that emerging as the Chairman of the ECOWAS will spread this light.

"However, our greatest challenges today are terrorism, militancy and youth unemployment. It is our hope that addressing these challenges would be the top priorities of your tenure. We at the ECOWAS Parliament want to assure you of our solidarity and total support as you confront these challenges.”

Senator Ekweremadu said the ECOWAS Protocols on free movement should go hand-in-hand with adequate infrastructural and human capital capacity to police the borders.
Lamenting the very low intra-regional trade among West African nations which is “very negligible, alarming and embarrassing”, the Nigerian senator decried the “unscrupulous practices” of uniformed personnel along the West African corridors and the proliferation of border posts and security checkpoints.

These, he noted, have combined to hinder free movement of persons and goods rather than promote regional integration and curb cross-border crimes.

Ekweremadu stated that border posts and checkpoint between Badagry, Nigeria, and Noe and the entry point from Ghana to Cote d’Ivoire is estimated at about 120 while bribes allegedly collected by Customs, Police, gendarmerie and other uniformed services had been put in the range of between US$3 to US$23 per 100 kilometres.

Meanwhile, President Mahama had, while receiving Senator Ekweremadu and the Bureau of ECOWAS Parliament, described the year 2015 as a very critical one as five Member States, including Nigeria, would be holding general elections.

He called for concerted efforts to make the elections free, fair and credible.

Commending Nigeria’s efforts at containing insecurity and terrorism in the sub-region, President Mahama lamented the recent bomb attack on Nyanya, Abuja, and  pledged to galvanize sub-regional resources and international support to ensure that the challenges of terrorism and insecurity are tackled in West Africa.
-0- PANA MON/VAO 24April2014

24 april 2014 17:52:49

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