President Muhammadu Buhari has stressed the need for West African leaders to work in concert with one another to address the challenges facing the sub-region and provide their people better prospects in life.
Speaking in Abuja Sunday at the 60th Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the ECOWAS, he noted: “We’re facing a network of criminals, including terrorism.
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“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.’’
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.
He noted that the sub-region had continued to face socioeconomic, political, security, and environmental realities linked to coronavirus pandemic.
“The challenges of coronavirus and the catastrophic consequences posed on our socioeconomic environment continue to torment us.”
Buhari said 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.
President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana and Chairman of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government, said as of December 8, the sub-region had recorded 674,556 cases of COVID-19 infections with 10,000 deaths.
“The new variant Omicron has already been found in three member states, and has led to unfortunate impositions of travel bans by some countries, which are unjustified and unacceptable.
“Meanwhile, the availability of vaccines continues to remain a problem. Despite our efforts, we have only 6% of our population receiving one dose, with 2% of the population fully vaccinated.
He expressed concern that the sub-region had continued to face security trials in the forms of deadly terrorist and kidnapping attacks, particularly in Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Nigeria.
He said these had been causing numerous casualties amongst civilians and security forces, resulting in a significant number of displaced persons
He stated: “Significant efforts are being made at both national and regional level to fight terrorism and extremism.
“We must step up our efforts to deal with these tasks which will be imposed upon us. And we must act in such a way that no one will doubt our resolve to protect our people.’’