By FEMI ADESINA, Special Adviser to the President, (Media and Publicity)
President Muhammadu Buhari Friday met with the President of ECOWAS Commission and Chairperson of the African Union Commission, at State House, Abuja, during which he emphasized the need for accountability and good neighbourliness in both the sub-region, and on the African continent.
Receiving first His Excellency Marcel A. de Souza, president of the ECOWAS Commission, President Buhari said it was gladdening that the organization was demanding accountability from its headquarters staff, which made it recently invite the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from Nigeria, to look into its books.
“Thanks for being firm, and for insisting on transparency and accountability at the ECOWAS headquarters,” President Buhari said, adding that Nigeria would continue to fulfill its obligations to the sub-regional body.
Nigeria hosts the 52nd Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government Saturday, December 16, 2017, in Abuja.
President Buhari said he expected a formal report on the situation in Guinea Bissau at the meeting, noting: “We need our troops back home, and I hope the President of that country will accept a constitutional way to resolve the situation there.”
The ECOWAS Commission boss thanked Nigeria for agreeing to host the 52nd Ordinary Session at short notice, adding that the impact of Nigeria was quite strong in the organization.
“We are under financial pressure due to terrorist attacks in the sub-region, but Nigeria being out of recession will have an impact on the entire region,” de Souza said.
He noted that Nigeria was the highest contributor of troops to Guinea Bissau, but admitted that “the troops can’t be there endlessly.”
At the meeting with His Excellency Moussa Faki Mahamat of the African Union Commission, President Buhari said good neighbourliness and relationship were important for security and economic development.
“That was why I visited all our neighbours. Such relationship is crucial for security, and economic development, so that our youths can get jobs,” the President noted.
On the situation in Libya, President Buhari reiterated that not every Black man was a Nigerian, and it was, therefore, important to authenticate the origin of the people in distress, before they were evacuated.
“We are trying to bring as many as possible from Libya. But not every Black man is a Nigerian. Others claim to be Nigerian, when they are not, and because they have destroyed their travel papers, we can’t claim them, except there is proper documentation,” the President said.
On recharging of the Lake Chad, which he has been in the vanguard of across the world, the President submitted: “The earlier we get it done, the better, so that our youths don’t continue to dare the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Sea.”
The AU Commission boss congratulated President Buhari for what he was doing for Nigeria, and for Africa. His words:
“Without President Buhari, and without Nigeria, many things would not have been possible. I appreciate the role you played in my election, and all that you do in ECOWAS, Lake Chad Basin Commission, and the entire continent.
“We follow your battle against corruption, and it is not by chance that you have been chosen by other African leaders to champion the battle in 2018.
“Your commitment is notable, and I seek your support for reforms that we intend to introduce in AU. Your guidance is vital. We need Africa to speak with one voice, and the voice of Nigeria is preponderant.”