…As ACCI President laments Francophone/Anglophone division
The President of Federation of West African Chambers of Commerce and Industry(FEWACCI) ,Hajia Saratu Iya Aliyu has celebrated ECOWAS at 45 even as the President of Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode has called on West Africans to unite and stop the colonial division in all facets of life.
Speaking at a virtual business forum organised by the Federation of West African Chambers of Commerce (FEWACCI), the President congratulated West African Leaders on the achievements so far recorded by the commission.
She speaks. as follows:
On behalf of the Federation of West African Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FEWACCI) and all the private sector actors of the ECOWAS Member States, I present to you my sincere gratitude for honoring my invitation to celebrate the 45th anniversary of our common organization ECOWAS on this day, Thursday 28th May 2020. The current situation has imposed on us a virtual celebration.
“Since the creation of ECOWAS in 1975, the organization through its programmes and initiatives has brought unity amongst its members, fostered inter-state economic and political cooperation and aims to improve the standard of living of its people.
“I will like to seize this moment to commend His Excellency Issoufou Mahamadou, President of Niger Republic and Chairman of ECOWAS Head of States and Government for his dedicated and exemplary leadership aimed at promoting the vision of our forerunners while creating this regional body. I also appreciate the support and recognition accorded to the Federation of West African Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FEWACCI) by Mr Jean Kassi Brou President of ECOWAS Commission and his team; this has been very helpful in enabling private sector involvement in deepening regional economic integration process.
“Today is a very important day for us as ECOWAS citizens as well as businessmen represented by FEWACCI because it provides an avenue for us to take a trip down memory lane and reflect on our successes and failures, and also devise various strategies towards achieving regional integration.
“Even though we still experience some challenges towards implementation of ECOWAS protocols, we have to celebrate our self because our region is the most important in Africa where we have rules and regulations that organize the free movement and access to common market.
“This celebration would have been a joyful one, if the world was not facing a global pandemic called COVID-19 which has claimed lives and placed embargos on the smooth running of businesses across our region. FEWACCI remains conscious of the great devastation the pandemic is causing both socially and economically. Our thoughts are with those who have lost their loved ones and may the dead rest in peace.
“On behalf of all of us, I want to commend ECOWAS Heads of State and Government for their concern about the threats posed by this pandemic to the regional integration and its negative impact. We took note of their Directives to contain the outbreak and to support private sector in our activities. But the needful has to be done regarding the closure of borders and challenges on movement of goods with impact on food insecurity.
“Private sector are ready to discuss with ECOWAS Commission on how to implement Head of State directives and agree on harmonized post COVID19 strategic measures to reboot regional economy and prepare for the forthcoming food insecurity alert.
“The grave impact of COVID-19 on our Public health and Economic sector should serve as a wake-up call for us and spur us to engage Governments in our States to pay attention to develop emerging sectors under the framework of Community enterprises where each citizen of ECOWAS will see himself as being relevantly involved in the development of our region.
“Lesson learnt from this COVID19 is solidarity and development of our local product. Let us work in solidarity and keep supporting Governments in our states on setting up of enabling business environment.
“Let me take this opportunity to congratulate H.E. Muhamadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for being nominated to champion ongoing measures put in place to contain the pandemic and for quick economic recovery.
“FEWACCI with the support of NACCIMA and organized private sector in Nigeria that I preside over, are fully committed and available to support your Excellency in achieving this goal”, Hajia Iya Aliyu said.
ACCI Boss Laments
Speaking at the event, the ACCI chief lamented that “We have to be frank to ourselves, we have not recorded much milestones in the areas of integration.
“We are still bogged down by anglophone/francophone divisions. We still treat and relate to each on the basis of colonial heritage. Worst still, even businesses within each of the colonial blocs are equally far apart.
“We must truly trade with each other ,overcoming colonial barriers. It is critical for us to create business partnerships covering various sectors without inhibition. A vast areas of business cooperation exist which we have neglected . It is time for is to enhance business collaboration for the collective good of our people”, he noted.
Prince Kayode stated that ECIWAS leaders “must also agree that irrespective of what we have achieved ,we still have a long way to go to realise full economic integration within the sub-region”,urging the region to take cognizance of the new AFCTA.
“We must note the context of the celebration for this year. This is the era of AFCTA already endorsed by African leaders . Luckily for ECOWAS, AFCTA headquarters is site in our region, in Accra Ghana.
“AFCTA presents our region bountiful opportunities in term of expansion of trade, wealth creation and acceleration of economic growth. But at the moment our capacity to tap into the numerous opportunities that may be created is doubtful. And this is the point I want to urge this Forum to address”,he emphasised.
He also expressed dissatisfaction with the current face off within the region over eco currency,lamenting that “while we are battling lack of closer business relations among the federation,we today have at hand a crisis of the common currency for the region.
“The region is now split into two over adoption of ‘eco’ currency. In the midst of this division and uncertainity ,it is time for West African leaders to brainstorm and find lasting solution to the stalemate. Since 1976 we should resolve the issue of common currency”, he pleaded.
He announced that the business chamber is promoting trasn-national company, adding that “it is time to promote and set up a transnational company in which each ECOWAS citizen will have share with access to a single market.
“We have to fast track work in SEALINK, ECOWAS RAIL LINK, and such regional projects that enhances regional link for trade and cultural contacts. Fortunately, we are blessed with rules and regulations that can support businesses and we are also blessed with mineral resources and a good climate and our region is openly investment friendly”,he concluded.