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24 April 2014

Senator Ike Ekweremadu meets President John Mahama in Ghana, seeks ECOWAS support to fight terrorism.

 The Speaker of the Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS Parliament, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has called on the new Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, President John Dramani Mahama of Ghana, to make war against terrorism and youth unemployment top priority of his tenure.

Ekweremadu spoke at a meeting with President Mahama at the State House in Accra, Ghana, on Thursday.
 “Ghana is a very important country in this sub-region. In terms of democracy, you hold the light in this sub-region and we believe that emerging as the Chairman of the ECOWAS will spread this light.
 “However, our greatest challenge today are terrorism, militancy, and youth unemployment. It is our hope that addressing these challenges would be the top priorities of your tenure. We at the ECOWAS Parliament want to assure you of our solidarity and total support as you confront these challenges”.

 The ECOWAS Parliament Speaker Senator equally called for “a summit of heads of state and government of both the ECOWAS and the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC), to build better synergy and raise the capacity of our member states to combat our common enemies” at the opening of a two-day dialogue session on the challenges of border crossing and opportunities for trade and finance for ECOWAS countries being organised by the National Institute for Legislative Studies, Abuja for Members of the ECOWAS Parliament in Accra, Ghana.

 The ECOWAS Speaker who also doubles as the Deputy President of the Nigerian Senate stressed that the ECOWAS Protocols on free movement should go hand-in-hand with adequate infrastructural and human capital capacity to police the borders.
 He bemoaned the very low intra-regional trade among West African nations, describing it as “very negligible, alarming, and embarrassing”.
 Ekweremadu decried the alleged unscrupulous practices of uniformed officers along the West African corridors and the proliferation of border posts and security checkpoints. 

He noted that these have combined to hinder the free movement of persons and goods rather than promote regional integration and curb cross-border crimes.
 He said that border posts and checkpoints between Badagary and Noe, the entry point from Ghana to Cote d’Ivoire), were estimated at about 120, while bribes allegedly collected by Customs, police, gendarmerie, and other uniformed services had been put in the range of between USD3 to USD23 per 100 kilometre.

President John Mahama while receiving Senator Ekweremadu and the Bureau of ECOWAS Parliament, described the year 2015 as a very critical one as five Members States, including Nigeria, would be holding general elections. 
He called for concerted efforts to make them free, fair, and credible.

Commending Nigeria’s efforts at containing insecurity and terrorism in the sub-region, the Chairman of the Authority of States and Government, however, lamented the recent bomb attack on Nyanya, Abuja, Nigeria, pledging to galvanize sub-regional resources and international support to ensure that the challenges of terrorism and insecurity become a thing of the past in West Africa.


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