Yar’Adua elected ECOWAS chairman
President Umaru Yar’Adua was Friday December 19, 2008 elected the chairman of the Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS).
He took over from Mr. Blaise Campaore, president of Burkina Faso, and would lead the regional body for one year.
The election of the Nigerian president was one of the highlights of the 35th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government meeting in Abuja.
In his acceptance speech, Yar’Adua said he would use his tenure to rebuild and strengthen institutions and to lay foundation for sustainable development.
The president also said he would work to get the region to meet its international commitments, particularly those involving the World Trade Organisation and on-going Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union. This, he said, ECOWAS would sign in June 2009.
President Campaore was mandated to continue to mediate in the peace process in Cote d’Ivoire and, in a related development, former Nigerian military president, General Ibrahim Babangida, was also asked to pursue peace in Guinea Bissau, where an attempt was made to assassinate the president.
Meanwhile, the projection of the real GDP for West Africa was yesterday put at $151.99 billion, a progression from $130.99 billion in 2007 and an estimated $139.86.
Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas, president of ECOWAS, said the growth rate would be slowing from 5.1 per cent in 2008 to 4.7 per cent in 2009 after an increase from 5.1 per cent in 2006 to 5.6 per cent in 2007.
The ECOWAS president said performance had been dictated by the global energy and food and financial crises as well as the region’s “lack of internal capacity to address these external shocks.”
One of the regional body’s responses to the situation is focusing on infrastructure, particularly transportation and energy, which the African Development Bank is being asked to coordinate.
The establishment of an electricity regulatory authority, which had been proposed by ECOWAS Council of Ministers in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, was okayed by the leaders. It would be hosted by Ghana.
Source: This Day