Nigeria has replaced the Republic of Togo as chairman of the 15-nation sub-regional group, Economic Community of West African States’ (ECOWAS), at the United Nations.
The Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the UN, Amb. Tijjani Bande, took over from his Togolese counterpart, Amb. FrancK Kpayedo at the sub-regional group’s meeting in New York.
Bande said Nigeria had always worked with other member-states of the group as brothers, including agreements on candidatures at the UN without conflicts.
He noted that on July 28 at Lome, President Muhammadu Buhari was elected chairman of ECOWAS, recalling Buhari was very thankful to his colleagues who urged him to take the lead for this year.
“Nigeria wants to make sure that we continue to work for the stability and general wellbeing of the sub-region and the region, and as much as possible, we should speak with one voice.
“We should also speak with one voice outside the continent because West Africa works collaboratively with all other sub-regions on the continent.
“Nigeria will do the best it can to strengthen the bonds of friendship within the region and do the work we are here to do at this very important platform in a better way and with more assured results for the benefit of all.
“The West African sub-region has seen better coordination than most sub-regions that operate here at the UN.
“We have dealt, like at the ECOWAS Commission back home, with matters, particularly to do with stability of the region to the satisfaction of all, even for difficult situations.”
Bande pledged that Nigeria would continue to do all it could to help coordinate the Group’s work adding, throughout its tenure, the country would provide leadership on all issues.
Speaking with NAN, the Nigerian envoy said it was a standard practice that ambassadors at the UN would chair the Group just as their heads of state.
According to him, since Buhari is chairing the ECOWAS heads of state, it follows that Nigeria at the UN should chair the group also.
“The basic issue is simply to consult with our colleagues from the sub-region to see how the agenda of ECOWAS can be brought and made alive at the UN.
“Our issues are peace and security, development, technology, agriculture, and speaking also in line with African region because ECOWAS coordinates what we do but we also work very well with the African Group here.
“President Buhari’s discussion when he took over in Lome, was the same thing we have been discussing, whether as it relates to Guinea or whatever country.
“As soon as there is an understanding within ECOWAS, we take it here at the UN as part of what we should also push forward; we have a very strong group of ambassadors here.
“They (ECOWAS ambassadors) are very clear and they are also very strong within the UN’s various platforms, pushing our issues in terms of our priorities; this is what we intend to do as Buhari is also doing at the level of heads of state.”
The ambassador of Togo, Kpayedo, thanked his colleagues for their support during his one-year tenure, and pledged support to Bande to succeed.
The ECOWAS Permanent Observer to the UN, Mr Kone Tanou, congratulated Kpayedo on a successful tenure and commended the ambassadors for their trust in Nigeria’s envoy to lead the Group.
“In few years of service in New York, you have shown great interest on multilateral diplomacy by investing yourself in preventive diplomacy, conflict prevention, peacebuilding and mediation,” Tanou said of Bande.
Amb. Mariame Fofana, Deputy Permanent Representative of Burkina Faso to the UN, commended Togo for its coordination of the group, and congratulated Nigeria for assuming the Group’s head, pledging her country’s support.
The representative of the Permanent Mission of Ghana, Solomon Korbieh, said “Nigeria is the pre-eminent power house in the sub-region”, adding in chairing the Group, “Nigeria will make us proud and also carry Africa’s light forward”.