African Nations Can Progress With Unity, Strength, Says Tinubu At AU Summit

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  • Urges Africa on good governance, growth
  • Calls for integration to defeat terrorismPresident Bola Tinubu has said that the African continent would progress if the countries are united which is needed as strength.

While the President said the past plundering and exploitation of the continent should remain in the past and not to be repeated, he announced plans to strengthen the ECOWAS Standby Force to deter coups and combat terrorism in the sub-region.

Tinubu said this at the Fifth Mid-Year Coordination Meeting (5thMYCM) of the African Union (AU), the Regional Economic Communities (RECs), the Regional Mechanisms (RMs), and the African Union Member-States.

The Nigerian leader, in his capacity as the Chairperson of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, highlighted the progress made by ECOWAS in various sectors of its integration process, including trade, free movement of persons, investment promotion, infrastructure development, and security.

African countries on good governance, growth

In his statement entitled: “Address on Status of Regional Integration in ECOWAS,” he emphasised the need for Africa to overcome its challenges and work towards a prosperous future, focusing on inclusive growth, good governance, and leveraging the opportunities provided by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Calling for good governance to ensure a prosperous future for Africa, free from the exploitations of the past, Tinubu said, “As Africans, we forge ahead no matter the barriers thrust before us.

“The world we inhabit is often unkind and uncertain. Past history and current global difficulties argue against our future success.

”Lessons of the past few years teach us that the world economy can be disrupted in ways that halt progress and invite downturn. Our nations can suddenly find themselves in dire situations if we choose to be passive observers of our fate.

”Such passivity does not commend itself to me. I will not listen to it. Neither should any African. The challenges we face mean that governance will be difficult.

”They also mean that visionary good governance is necessary. Some observers assert a new scramble for Africa is afoot and it is much like the old scramble that plundered our continent.

”But, here and now, let it be said to whomever the new scramblers might be that our continent may be old but our spirit is new. And it is strong. The bad that took place in the past must stay there. It shall never be repeated.”

Integration to crush terrorism

On peace, security, and stability, the Nigerian leader acknowledged the challenges faced by the sub-region, including terrorism and anti-constitutional changes in government.

”We sit here in meaningful discussion of vital economic matters. Yet, it will be impossible to bring full meaning to what we attempt unless we give due consideration to the instability and conflict that now scar many of our nations.

”The fullness of the integration we seek will elude us as long as several of our nations stand in the midst of violence and war.

”The trade and commerce we talk of today refers to valued goods and services that improve life. The trade and commerce these nations suffer is of destruction and disorder that takes lives and steals opportunity.

”We cannot integrate Africa and attain the prosperity we seek while our nearby brothers and sisters suffer in pain and anguish, they should not suffer.

”We must advance as one continent toward peace and prosperity.

”Otherwise, we risk the creation of two or more Africa, one a select group of nations moving steadily while the rest remain trapped in the age-old mire of poverty, conflict and lack of hope.

”It is very clear that in the area of peace, security, and stability, our region is confronted with the twin challenges of terrorism and reversal of democratic gains through undemocratic changes of Government.

”To address these challenges, the ECOWAS Authority, which I have the honour to chair, has given directive regarding the enhancement of the role of the ECOWAS Standby Force for deployment to fight terrorism and undemocratic changes in government.

”The Authority has also resolved to raise our own funding internally to finance the peace support operations in our community. Meanwhile, we have continued to monitor the transition programmes in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea, ” he said.

As the Chair of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Tinubu spoke on trade, saying the sub-region achieved the Free Trade Area and was working on establishing the Customs Union and Common Market.

However, he expressed concern about the low level of intra-community trade among member-states, noting that the European Union remains the major trading partner for the region, followed by Asia, North America, and the rest of Africa.

On free movement of persons, President Tinubu informed the meeting that ECOWAS had commenced action towards the implementation of the Harmonized Visa-Regime (ECOVISA) to facilitate the free movement of non-ECOWAS citizens.

On regional infrastructure development, President Tinubu reaffirmed ECOWAS’ focus on building regional infrastructure, including the Lagos-Abidjan Corridor Highway, to promote economic activities and integration.

”The Feasibility and Preliminary Design and Studies show a significant investment cost of nearly US$15 billion for the whole highway with an average economic rate of return of 15% per annum. In the same vein, preparations are under way for the development of the other corridors, namely the Abidjan-Praia-Dakar,” he said.

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