President Dr Julius Maada Bio has highlighted the successes and challenges of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, at the end-of-year Summit in Abuja, Nigeria on Saturday 21 December 2019 in Abuja, Nigeria.
During his intervention at the 56th Ordinary Summit, President Bio commended the President of ECOWAS Commission, Kassi Brou, for the comprehensive update and noted that the sub-regional economic growth at 3.3% in 2019, a notch higher than Africa’s 3.0% growth average.
He also urged his colleagues to redouble efforts toward increasing inter-community trade and investment, adding: “We should lower and eventually eliminate trade barriers among our community of nations, especially inter-community transportation and shipping. Let us make the free movement of people, goods and services a key benchmark of our integration commitment”.
The President reiterated Sierra Leone’s commitment to the ECOWAS single currency, community levy obligations and commended all those who have made commitments to contributing to the ECOWAS fund for implementing the action plan on counter-terrorism. He also expressed deep concern over the slow operationalisation of the ECOWAS Logistics Depot to be constructed at Lungi, near Freetown and urged member states not to renege on their commitment to operationalise early warning centres in member states to mitigate the impact of climate change.
On democratic governance, which is one of the challenging issues in member states, President Bio told his colleagues that: “Sierra Leone continues to urge that our community embraces an even and unambiguous commitment to a culture of democratic governance, predictably-timed democratic elections, and peaceful transfers of power. This will not only create a more peaceful community but it will help create a safe and predictable climate for trade and investment. We must continue holding ourselves fully accountable to all agreed standards of good governance. Therefore, we must not appease, and we should not compromise on this collective commitment”.
His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio ended his intervention by welcoming the findings and recommendations of the Forensic Audit Report of the ECOWAS institutions. He said: “The revelations are an indictment of our individual national commitments to fighting graft and our collective sense of dignity and integrity as a community. We must draw the lines on corruption at this level. We must not babysit or seek to protect corrupt elements at the helm of affairs of our community. We must not condone corrupt practices and we must be consistent and committed to conducting forensic audits of all the community’s institutions and programmes”.
Earlier, before the opening session of the Summit, President Bio held a bilateral meeting with His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Republic of Nigeria, where both Heads of State pledged to strengthen the relationship between Sierra Leone and Nigeria.