ECOWAS: Buhari backs restructuring


President Muhammadu Buhari has advocated for the restructuring of ECOWAS, saying that the organization needed to streamline its management to adjust to current realities.

”A situation where ECOWAS has 23 statutory appointees, of which 13 are Commissioners for this Commission is totally unsustainable”, the president said in his presentation to the virtual 58th Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS, in Abuja, on Saturday.

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He stressed that there was need for a lean and compact leadership in ECOWAS, to enhance the efficiency and performance of the organization, adding that the restructuring would eliminate overlap and the tussle between the large statutory appointees, as well as reduce personnel and overhead costs that could be channelled to the execution of projects.

”The African Union, our larger continental organization of 55 members, has pruned down its commissioners to only six, hence, there’s no basis whatsoever, for ECOWAS, with only 15 members, to maintain 13 commissioners and 10 other statutory appointees.

”Accordingly, Nigeria recommends the immediate appointment of a ministerial ad hoc committee to review the proposal of the Maxwells Temp Report and submit a recommendation, at the mid-year summit for our consideration and adoption.

”If, however, some countries are not in favour of this, then each country must sponsor its own statutory appointee as is practiced by other organizations, such as the European Union and other regional organizations,” President Buhari told the meeting.

He added: ”Going by the recommendation of the Maxwells Temp Report, it is envisaged that even with the lean number of statutory appointees, each member country will still have a representative on the management of ECOWAS.

”We believe that this should satisfy our desire to have a sense of belonging in the community’s institutions and also to enhance our spirit of solidarity”.

The Nigerian leader drew attention of the meeting to the fact that at 45, ECOWAS was expected to be an accomplished regional organization, and for that reason, the right and bold decisions to enhance its performance must be taken.

”This is to fulfil the aspirations of its founding fathers and effectively serve the citizens of our community, to consolidate our prime position as the best sub-regional organization in the African continent,” he said.

Meanwhile, President Buhari has directed the immediate release of $20 million, earlier pledged by Nigeria, to the pool account of the ECOWAS Action Plan to fight terrorism across the sub-region.

On the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the ECOWAS region, Buhari called on all member states to ensure that they prioritise procurement of the vaccines for their citizens, while increasing efforts to develop vaccines locally, so that member states could build herd immunity against the pandemic.

He also urged the ECOWAS Commission, to work with the West African Health Organisation (WAHO), to assist member states in acquiring the vaccines and storage facilities, ahead of the distribution of the vaccines within the region.

The President said efforts should also be accelerated for the production of rapid diagnostic test kits, of international standards in the region, to be made available to all member states.