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Jonathan: My vision is to make ECOWAS one family

The President of Nigeria and Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Goodluck Jonathan, said Saturday that his vision was to make the people of the sub-region act as one family.

He said in spite of the differences in languages and cultures, the people of the sub-region should act and think with one purpose.

President Jonathan, who ended a two-day visit to Ghana on Saturday, was speaking after the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration had conferred on him an honorary Doctor of Laws degree, at a special congregation at the institute in Accra.

“The visions are the creation of sub-region without frontiers; the provision of an enabling environment within which people ply their businesses and live in peace and to create a zone that is an integral part of the African continent, where all human beings live in dignity and benefit from fair trade and mutual solidarity,” he said.

He said although his term as ECOWAS chairman would expire in December, he would continue to collaborate with fellow leaders to push his vision to reality.

Jonathan reminded his colleagues of their duty to ensure that the people in the sub-region lived in peace and security and pursue the commercial activities without undue hindrances imposed by their agencies.

He called on the countries in the region to use the state as an agent of change and progress, explaining that the state must unleash the creative genius of the people and their unbounded energy and industry that gave rise to the trans-Saharan trade centuries ago and sustained the people for generations.

The Nigerian leader urged Africans to look inwards rather than other lines for inspiration, saying “we should rather look inwards to our past and present conditions to gain the needed motivation to move our collective project, called ECOWAS, forward”.

Ghana’s President John Evans Atta Mills said leaders of countries in the West African sub-region must team-up to flush out elements engaged in trans-border crimes.

Singling out Ghana and Nigeria, President Mills said leaders of the two sister nations could dwell on their affinities to address trans-border crimes, especially by Fulani herdsmen.

It is on record that the criminal activities by some Fulani herdsmen had become a constant threat to towns and villages along which they moved their cattle for pasture, engaging in destruction of farms, farms products, stealing and raping women.

Also, there had been reported cases of highway robbery in roads and routes linking countries in the sub-region.

ECOWAS protocols provide for the free movement of goods and services and factors of production, but criminal elements, pose a security threat and deprive the states of the expected benefits of the protocol.

He referred to the success of Ghana and Nigeria in pushing for the establishment of the ECOWAS Parliament, the ECOWAS Judiciary and the common currecy, President Mills said the two nations could also spearhead the challenge to stem the activities of the Fulani herdsmen and other trans-border crimes

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