Minister Urges ECOWAS Citizens to Support Implementation of Regional

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Accra - Ghana — Ghana's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration Honourable Alhaji Muhammad Mumuni, has called on community citizens to assume ownership and participate actively in the implementation of ECOWAS regional integration programmes.

"ECOWAS citizens must know what they stand to benefit from community programmes and projects and above all, know that they stand to lose if they do not play their part in the implementation process," the Minister said in his address to a three-day ECOWAS Information and Sensitization Campaign, which opened in Accra, the Ghanaian capital on Wednesday 20th June 2012.

For implementation to succeed, Honourable Mumuni, represented by Ambassador Leslie Kodjo Christian, the Chief Director in the ministry said it must be "people-driven and people-centred." This is in line with the transformation from an ECOWAS of States to an ECOWAS of People, through the Organization's Vision 2020. He therefore urged the workshop, co-sponsored by the ECOWAS Commission and the ECOWAS National Unit, Ghana, to come up with concrete recommendations to improve citizens' knowledge about ECOWAS programmes and activities and how to ensure their effective implementation to move the region forward.

The Minister noted that since the paradigm shift from an ECOWAS of States to an ECOWAS of People, the focus of the regional body "has been driven by the need to improve the living standards of its citizens," adding that the programmes and activities "touch on every facet of life, including agriculture to ensure food security, trade, energy, infrastructural development, peace and security, to mention but a few." While lauding the achievements by ECOWAS since its inception 37 years ago, including the region's visa-free regime, he however, observed that the implementation of the Organization's flagship Protocol on Free movement of People, Goods and Services and the issues of cross-border security "are still of great concern to Member States" given their importance to the regional integration project.

The workshop, he said should therefore serve as another opportunity to share views on these issues for a positive outcome. "I count on your collective participation and commitment to ensure fully integrated economies by further transmitting the outcome of this workshop to persons in this region and even beyond," the Minister told the attendees. In his welcome address, the ECOWAS Acting Director of Communication, Mr. Sunny Ugoh, reiterated the need for community citizens' sound awareness about and participation in the various regional integration programmes, projects and activities. He said the workshop, which was started some 15 years ago was part of ongoing efforts to carry citizens along, and encourage and promote their ownership of community programmes in line with the objectives of a citizen-driven community and Vision 2020.

The workshop is being attended governmental and non-State actors, officials of Ghana immigration and customs services, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Integration, ECOWAS Commission, Community Court of Justice and Parliament, ECOWAS Health Organization, representatives of non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations, traders, market women, students associations and the media among others integration programmes.

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