Abuja - Nigeria — ECOWAS and the international community have made irreversible progress in Mali by freeing the north of the country from the grip of terrorists and securing its territorial integrity, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, His Excellency Kadré Désiré Ouédraogo has affirmed.
Speaking at an interactive session between management and staff of the Commission in Abuja on Friday 10th May 2013, the President said that “things are moving well,” with the terrorists now overrun to the point that they will no longer be able to regroup, thanks to the intervention by France and the international community. He also lauded ECOWAS' troop contributing member States as well as Chad, the African Union, UN and other partners for supporting the regional initiative by raising the African-led International Support Mission in Mali, which is expected to transform into a UN Mission by 1st July 2013.
The president equally expressed his optimism on the ECOWAS-supported defence and security sector reforms in Guinea Bissau ahead of planned elections in the country in December this year, adding that the Commission is also following with keen interest pre-election activities in Guinea and Togo. He reiterated the priorities of his management team at the Commission including addressing peace and security challenges; accelerating community integration with emphasis on the effective implementation of the regional protocol on free movement of persons, rights of residence and establishment, and development of infrastructure - roads, railways, air transportation, energy and telecommunications, among others, to make the region more competitive.
The other priorities, the president said, are food security; development of human resources, through youth training and empowerment to enable them contribute meaningfully to regional development, as well as capacity building and institutional reforms both at the Commission and the other Community institutions for improved performance. He also reminded the staff that ECOWAS would be marking its 38th anniversary this year, while the African Union would be celebrating 50 years of the founding of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), two celebrations that are of significance to the region and the continent.
The president, who later fielded questions from staff members ranging from the institutional reforms to staff welfare, also used the opportunity to reiterate the open-door policy of his management team, which he said is anchored on sincere dialogue.
The Vice-President of the Commission, Dr. Toga Gayewea McIntosh and the Commissioners for Administration and Finance Mrs. Khadi Ramatu Saccoh and Political Affairs Peace and Security, Mrs. Salamatu Hussaini Suleiman, took turns to answer the questions raised by the staff and also explained management positions on various issues.
In a vote of thanks, a representative of the Staff Association, Mr. Haruna Wakani commended the management team for the noticeable changes since they came on board a year ago, including the prompt payment of staff salaries and the due process mechanism put in place.
The management has pledged to make the interactive session a regular fare, to boost the sharing of information and effective communication that will assist the Commission in delivering on its mandate to the community.