By Lizzy Okoji
Abuja – Financing action plans to combat terrorism ravaging ECOWAS Member States has been listed as top agenda among other matters to be discussed during the 83rd Ordinary Session of ECOWAS Council of Ministers.
Mr Kalla Ankouroa, Chairman of the Council and Niger Republic’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, made this known on Tuesday in Abuja, at the opening of the Ministerial Session.
Ankouroa said that the Council of Ministers would be considering the financing of the action plan for counter terrorism in line with the decisions of the extraordinary ordinary summit of Heads of States.
According to him, dealing with the new threats to security posed by terrorism was a matter of urgency which requires the commitment of Member-States.
Ankouroa said that considering the importance of the issue, deliberations on the security situation of the sub-region was a major concern during the Mediation and Security Council meeting on Dec. 16, leading to the adoption of the Plan of Action.
He said that following the consideration of various items on the agenda, the reports from the Council would be submitted to the Heads of States and Governments with appropriate recommendations.
He said that the Council of Ministers meeting also seeks to brainstorm on political and economic issues, humanitarian crises, climate change and social development challenges confronting the sub-region with a bid to proffering solutions.
“Today, we brainstormed on the state of our community, considered ways of advancing the regional agenda of our region, and came up with appropriate responses to the various challenges facing us today.
“In addition to the recurring issues of economic and social development of our people and the issues of enhancing democracy, we have to deal with new threats affecting our regions.
“The major issues bordered on security due to terrorism, and the effect of climate change on our systems of production and the humanitarian crises.
“We expect members of the council to put heads together constructively and productively in furtherance to the commitment of tackling the issues.
“At this 83rd ordinary session, we are going to be considering the financing of the action plan for counter-terrorism in line with the decisions of the extraordinary summit.
“It is an important issue for our deliberations which was already considered yesterday in the Mediation and Security Council which adopted the Plan of Action. ”
Ankouroa encouraged Member States to improve the efficiency of all the institutions in order to achieve the fundamental objectives of the process of integration.
Also speaking, Amb. Zubairu Dada, Nigeria’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said that the end of the year Statutory ECOWAS Council of Ministers serves as a platform where thematic issues of the community are deliberated upon.
Dada said that experts had met and deliberated on most of the items in the agenda, especially the 2020 budget of the Community.
“We, therefore, have the onerous task of considering the work; it is expected that the delegates will make fruitful contributions to issues raised before the meeting.
“We must provide useful information that will guide our principals’ decisions, especially as ECOWAS is moving from ECOWAS of Community to ECOWAS of the people.”
In his remaks, Mr Jean-Claude Brou, President, ECOWAS Commission, said that the Ordinary Session of Ministers creates an opportunity for the Commission to present the state of the Community to representatives of Members States.
Brou said that this would give them the opportunity to make recommendations and decisions that would advance the progress of the community.
He said that the ECOWAS Commission would make presentations on the state of the Community, the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA), financial reports, the 2020 budget and programmes of the community.
The ECOWAS Commission President said that the 83rd Ordinary Session of the Council of Ministers would also remind the community on the urgency of the security issue.
“The important issue of the funding of the five-year action plan to combat terrorism will be touched; you remember we discussed it at the extraordinary summit that took place on Sept. 14 Ouagadougou,” Brou said.