Leaders of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have celebrated Nigeria for her role in restoring peace in Guinea Bissau and condemned the activities of Boko Haram in the North-eastern part of Nigeria. The leaders also vowed to unite to end the insurgency.
This was disclosed at Yamoussoukro, the Ivorian capital, venue of the 44th Ordinary Summit of the group to deliberate on matters affecting member countries.
The security situation in Nigeria, Mali and Guinea Bissau as well as the next elections in Guinea Bissau formed the agenda of the meeting.
Other issues discussed included regional, economic integration, peace and stability, free and fair elections and the construction of the Lagos- Abidjan highway which will cut across some African countries.
When constructed, the expressway is capable of facilitating trade among many countries as well as reducing the travel time from Nigeria to Cote d’ Ivoire by road from three days to about a day.
In his remarks, President Goodluck Jonathan who was awarded a medal titled “Son of Excellence” for Nigeria’s recent efforts and sacrifices in bringing peace ad stability to Guniea Bissau, Mali and other troubled parts of the sub region.
Nigeria had in recent times voted funds and made its Armed Forces and equipment, which include four Alpha Jets available to support Mali and Guinea Bissau in times of crises and instability.
In his opening address, Ivorian President and outgoing chairman of ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, Alassane Outtara, condemned the Boko Haram insurgency troubling the north eastern part of Nigeria.
Outtara called for cooperation among the countries in the sub region, adding that sister nations can no longer afford to keep quiet because the insurgency affects Nigeria alone.
He spoke extensively on what his administration was doing to take Cote d’ Ivoire to the next level.
He emphasized the need for common ECOWAS tariff and opening up of more business opportunities among member nations as well as cooperation in the area of infrastructural development.
He also commended Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana and others for the contribution to the restoration of peace in Guinea Bissau and Mali.
Also in his remarks, the President of ECOWAS Commission, Kadre Desire Ouedraogo noted that for the sub region to achieve its MDG targets, leaders must develop human capital and consolidate on peace and security, ” for human security must be at the core of regional concern.”
He also condemned the Boko Haram activities in north eastern Nigeria, adding that it was “stark reminder” for sub regional leaders to urgently put heads together and nip the violence in the bud.
He commended the gradual peace and security which are returning to the sub region but quickly added that leaders cannot afford to ignore the new threats posed by terrorists across the sub region.
The ECOWAS leaders met behind closed doors where they discussed the construction of the Lagos- Abidjan expressway, consider several reports from the ECOWAS Commission and ECOWAS Mediation and Security Council.
They discussed a communique to be presented on the European Partnership Agreement (EPA) and other matters by the Council of Ministers, which had its own meeting on Wednesday.
Nigeria was represented at the Wednesday meeting by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr Olusegun Aganga and the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs II, Dr Nurudeen Mohammed.
President Jonathan and his Burkina Faso counterpart, Blaise Compaore who are mediators in the Mali crisis also briefed leaders on the current situation in the country.
In attendance were President Yahya Jammeh of Gambia, Blaize Compaore of Burkina Faso, John Dramani Mahnma of Ghana, Ellen Johnson- Sirleaf of Liberia, Boni Yayi of Benin Republic, Ibrahim Boukar Keita of Mali, Mahmadou Issoufou of Niger Republic and many others.
FG directs transmission company to commence distribution
The Federal Government has directed the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) to commence the immediate distribution of power on the completed transmission lines.
Vice President Namadi Sambo gave the directive during an audience with the Board and Supervising Management of the TCN and other officials of the power delivery sector in the State House on Friday.
The Vice President said that, “government needs to address three sectors in order to achieve the objectives of adequate power supply. The sectors are, financing the power sector; addressing properly the generation, transmission, distribution and development of gas infrastructure for gas supply; and the production of hydro-power plants to meet the planned objectives of the vision 2020:20.
Sambo admitted that: “There are a lot of challenges particularly as government is keeping the TCN as its government-owned entity and as a new strategy for bringing in Manitoba to manage and transfer technology to our local expertise”.
He assured them of government’s continued support and partnership toward achieving the set goals.
Sambo promised to use the platform to commence discussions regarding the needed support in areas of funding apart from investments. He noted the approvals received by the company and assured that government will further invest in the TCN.
The Vice President said further that, “with the existing infrastructure, already a transaction adviser has been appointed and work is ongoing to assess them in a bid to transferring all the transmission investments of the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) to the board members and major investors in the transmission agency”.
He charged the Ministry of Power to meet and come up with solutions on areas to tackle further in order to forge ahead and directed that all the projects must commence simultaneously.
Earlier, Chairman, TCN, expressed delight at the audience granted him by the Vice President and commended his efforts geared at revamping the power sector which he said clearly manifested in the International Financing Conference on Power.
He informed the Vice President that the TCN has about 125 important projects at the moment and is keying its company’s goal into the national vision 2020:20 objective to generate at least 20,000 megawatt.
He lamented the funding difficulties the board has encountered, expressing anxiety over the uninsured status of the company’s infrastructure which exposes them to risks especially in emergencies such as accidents.
He requested for adequate funding and a multi-dimensional approach which will be complementary to work towards solving the power issues.
He pledged his commitment to ensuring a successful project.
The Managing Director, NDPHC, James Olotu urged that the current status and costs of all the NDPHC transmission projects be transferred to the TCN.
Others present at the meeting included the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Sam Amadi and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Power, Godknows Igali.