President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of Ghana was Monday unanimously elected Chairman of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), at the regional bloc’s 57th Summit, held in Niamey, Niger.
The President takes over from Nigerien leader Mahamadou Issoufou. He will hold that position for a year.
In an acceptance speech, President Akufo-Addo expressed his gratitude for the honour r done him, and pledged to give of his best live up to the challenges of the position.
“Excellencies, I am fully aware of the challenges which confront West Africa. Past leaders of ECOWAS have demonstrated their collective will and determination to drive the agenda of regional integration, opening up our economic frontiers, encouraging healthy competition amongst Member States, and ensuring that we adhere to our formative principles.
“As much as considerable progress has been made since the establishment of ECOWAS, some forty-five (45) years ago, we are all agreed that there is much more to be done to consolidate the socio-economic and political gains made over the years,” he said.
Hitting the ground running, the President Akufo-Addo called five challenges that needed immediate attention by member states – the continuing activities of terrorists in the Region, the COVID-19 pandemic, the imminent coming into force of the African Continental Free Trade Area on 1st January 2021, the 2020 decision on Monetary Union within the ECOWAS space; and the consolidation of democratic governance in the Community.
“The challenges, in these critical regional spheres, such as security, economy, trade, currency and health, must be addressed in a spirit of genuine co-operation and solidarity, if we are to succeed in overcoming them, which we can,” he said.
“In so doing, we must protect, at all costs, our freedom and independence of action, so that the development of our Community responds to the needs and aspirations of our peoples, and not to the goals of external agencies and forces.
“I am confident that, by the grace of God, I can count on the unstinting support of each one of Your Excellencies in navigating the immediate future of our Community.”
President Akufo-Addo rallied his counterparts to implement regional decisions, and to collaborate maintain the common values of governence, to enhance the integration agenda of the Community.
“Those of us who believe strongly in integration can do no better than to give our full support to regional decisions. Through this, we will build institutional confidence and integrity in the structural organs of ECOWAS,” he stated.
The President pressed the people of the Community to lend support to the decisions of bloc for the speedy development of the region.
“Our peoples deserve no less, and the objectives of peace, progress and prosperity will, thus, be within our reach, realising the historic purposes of ECOWAS,” he stated.
President Akufo-Addo is the fourth successive Ghanaian leader in the Fourth Republic to have been elected ECOWAS Chairperson. Former Presidents Jerry John Rawlings, John Agyekum Kufuor and John Dramani Mahama also enjoyed the privilege.