Thursday, January 07, 2010

ECOWAS Leaders to Replace Yar’Adua as Chairman - ‘His tenure, the worst ever’

From Taiwo Adisa and Christian Okeke
Monday, December 21, 2009

THE failure of President Umaru Yar’Adua to return to the country, 28 days after he left for a medical treatment in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, has taken its negative toll on the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Heads of State and Government Summit which was scheduled to be held today (Monday). President Yar’Adua was elected chairman of the organisation in Abuja on December 19, 2008 for a period of one year after President Blaise Campaore of Burkina Faso served out the final leg of his third non-consecutive tenure which lasted from 2006 to 2008. His first tenure was in 1990.

Before the unavoidable shift of the date for the summit to January 18, 2010, the heads of state were expected to consider the performance of West Africa’s economy and the 2009 work programme of the institution, which is articulated around five priority areas of activity and expected to be presented to them by the President of the Commission, Dr. Chambas, as part of the 2009 annual report.

The priority areas are the completion of work on the creation of a customs union, negotiations on the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA), the development of agricultural and environmental policies as well as the state of peace and security in the region.

Apart from those areas, the summit was also to consider the Council of Ministers’ report which, among other things, includes recommendations on various sectoral programmes from such meetings as the ECOWAS Ministers of Health, Culture, Justice as well as Telecommunications and ICT.

It would have also considered the guidelines for the preparation of report on the ECOWAS multilateral surveillance mechanism. The ministers had ended their meeting in Abuja on Saturday, November 21, in preparation for presentation of the report to the heads of state.

The regional leaders were expected at the botched summit to sign some supplementary acts and decisions, including such areas as telecommunications and information, communication and technology (ICT) as well as the establishment of a regional copyright observatory.

A major event at the summit, the Nigerian Tribune gathered, would have been the replacement of President Yar’Adua who emerged the sixth Nigerian leader to chair the organisation in 2008 after Olusegun Obasanjo (1978), Muhammadu Buhari (1985), Ibrahim Babangida (1986 - 1988), Sani Abacha (1996 - 1998) and Abdulsalam Abubakar (1998 - 1999).

Indications emerged that the regional leaders will, in January, not give in to any move to re-elect President Yar’Adua for a fresh mandate under any guise, owing to what sources mainly termed his “leadership without direction.”

A source told the Nigerian Tribune that the tenure of President Yar’Adua was one of the worst to be experienced by the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Commission, which was set up by Article 7, 8 and 9 of the Treaty and which defined its composition and functions.

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