The President of Liberia and Chairperson of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf reiterated the need for a concerted effort to implement the Protocol for the free movement of people and goods in the sub-region.
Sirleaf enjoined heads of member states to continue to transform the sub-regional organization from what she called “ECOWAS of States to ECOWAS of People” so as to continue to enjoy the respect of the international community.
President Sirleaf made the call when she delivered the opening address of the 50th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government in Abuja, the seat of the ECOWAS Commission.
She reminded the Assembly about her pledge at the Dakar ECOWAS Summit to tackle institutional reform as one major priority during her tenure as Chairperson of the ECOWAS Authority and confirmed that the President of the ECOWAS Commission is taking strong actions to rationalize the structure of the Commission and to contain cost through more efficient financial management and effective use of resources consistent with the current economic situation.
President Sirleaf stressed that the reform process is driven by Maxwell Stamp consultants, who have proposed concrete reform processes to decentralize functions and introduce business-like services, which are consistent with the institution’s vision of providing services that impact lives of community citizens.
“We commend the decision of the Commission’s President to embark on Phase II of the deliverables of the Maxwell Stamp Report dealing job classifications and staffing needs,” she indicated.
She noted that the success of regional integration rests largely with the collective resolve of ECOWAS to fully implement the protocol on free movement of people and goods.
The Liberian leader noted the recent Burkina Faso Donor Conference held in Paris to support the country’s economic recovery program for sustainable growth and development and regretted a terrorist attack on the security forces in Burkina Faso on Friday.
Speaking earlier, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari welcomed the ECOWAS leaders to Abuja and congratulated the leaders of Ghana, Cape Verde and others for the holding of successful democratic elections.
He pointed that ECOWAS should be proud of its achievements, particularly in convention management and prevention and the combat against terrorism.
President Buhari also noted that efforts are required to improve domestic resource mobilization and requested the community to invest in infrastructure and human capacity development.
“We must make ECOWAS to be responsive to global challenges because we are an envy of other regional organizations. We must also entrust the ECOWAS Parliament with more functions,” he emphasized.
Also speaking, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, His Excellency Mr. Marcel Alain de Souza welcomed the West African leaders and thanked Presidents Sirleaf and Buhari for their tremendous support to the Commission.
He commended President Sirleaf for her visit to the ECOWAS Commission, the first in recent history and provided updates on various activities of the Commission. Mr. de Souza indicated that the sub-region was not spared of the global financial crisis and reflected on the general economic situation in the region.