Cotonou - Benin — The Benin Minister of Economy and Finance, Mr. Jonas Gbian, has urged citizens of the country to embrace various programmes embarked upon by ECOWAS and the UEMOA Commissions to facilitate regional integration and improve the lives of the population.
In an address to a gathering as part of the 8th Edition of the National Integration Week in Bohicon, some 10-km east of the nation?s economic capital Cotonou, on Thursday 31st January 2013, the Minister said the citizens should also make meaningful contributions to ensure that Benin took its rightly place among the comity of nations. Minister Gbian, represented by the Director-General, Economic Affairs in the Ministry, Mr. Houenou Appolinaire, called on the population to take full advantage of the activities of the integration week to educate themselves on the programmes of the two Commissions. He commended the foresight of the founding fathers of ECOWAS and UEMOA in mobilizing socio-economic stakeholders behind the integration agenda.
Speaking in the same vein, the Mayor of Bohicon, Mr. Luc Atrokpo, called for the active participation of the citizens in all the discussions and programmes in order to maximize the benefits of the Integration Week. In his remarks, Mr. Armand Nouatin, Head of Zou and Collines Administrative Department where Bohicon is located, commended the sensitization initiative and called on the citizens to educate themselves adequately on ECOWAS programmes and activities.
The week-long sensitization event took off on Tuesday 29th January with a Television programme featuring the Head of the ECOWAS National Unit, Mr. Nassif Badirou, the representative of UEMOA in Benin, Mr. Babacar Badsibassa and a representative of the ECOWAS Parliament, Mr. Alfred Traore. Wednesday the 30th featured a Caravan tour of major cities in the Zou and Collines Administrative Department, namely Save, Glazoue and Dassa-Zoume amid fun fair and sensitization on ECOWAS and UEMOA, as well as distribution of souvenirs. The activities continue with a two-day seminar on ECOWAS activities and programmes, ending on Saturday with a football match.
The Ministry of Economy and Finance introduced the National Week of Integration in Benin in 2004 with the activities coordinated by the ECOWAS National Unit within the framework of Vision 2020 which emphasizes ownership of the regional integration process by Community citizens for an ECOWAS of people.
The ECOWAS Commission is represented at this year?s event by the External Relations, Free Movement and Communication Directorates.
The Heads of ECOWAS National Units from Guinea and Burkina Faso are also participating in the event for the purpose of experience sharing.