ECOWAS leaders agree to source COVID-19 vaccines as a bloc to reduce cost

The 58th ordinary session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and government has held virtually, in compliance with the covid-19 protocols.

The summit had all Heads of State and government in attendance including the head of the Mali transition government,  who was attending for the first time

The heads of government meet to harmonise their response to the corona virus pandemic, whose second wave has hit member states hard.

The Authority of Heads of State and Government agreed to continue measures to prevent the spread of the pandemic within the region

They also agreed to source the COVID-19 vaccines as a bloc in order to reduce cost and minimise competition.Advertisement

The Heads of Government are also concerned about the  cost of testing for the deadly virus across the region and agree to harmonise the cost to 50 dollars. But beyond the pandemic, the rise in terrorism in the subregion is also brought up for discussion

An Action plan endorsed in 2019 in the fight against terrorism is now to be implemented as quickly as possible to help address insurgency and terrorist attacks in the region

The Government of Ghana pledges 50million dollars to support the implementation of the plan and to address piracy in the gulf of guinea while the Nigerian government pledges 100 million dollars

President Banda of Mali participated in the meeting for the first time as the Head of the transition Government

The finalisation of the roadway for the transition is in progress and would be presented and adopted soon.Advertisement

Covid-19 was also reported to have greatly affected the single currency project. Heads of State and government agreed to exempt 2020 and 2021 from the respecting the convergence pact

The Authority of Heads of State and government also  agreed to adopt a new path and develop a new road map which will be presented in the next meeting in June 2021.

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The Commander, U.S. Africa Command, U General Stephen Townsend, wrapped up a three-day West African visit February 22-25, 2021, with a stopover in Nigeria to meet with the nation’s leaders and further the long-standing partnership and security cooperation between the two countries.

A press statement by the Embassy on Friday, said: “During the visit, Townsend met with the Nigerian President’s Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, and National Security Adviser, Babagan Monguno, to discuss regional security issues and to express the command’s gratitude for the assistance provided during a hostage rescue operation last year.

“When we asked for their help, the Nigerian government answered the call. Our hostage recovery mission in October would have been impossible without their support.

“They quickly provided assistance that helped the U.S. military to save an American life. That is a strong example of our partnership with Nigeria.”

Townsend also met with senior military officials, including the Minister of Defence, Bashir Salihi Magash, and the Chief of Defence Staff, General Leo Irabor, to talk about on-going cooperation in the region and greater maritime security and threat mitigation.

Nigeria is a key partner in countering violent extremist organizations throughout the Lake Chad Basin.

Townsend said furthermore: “The bilateral relationship between Nigeria and the U.S. is built on several pillars including security cooperation.

“U.S. Africa Command will do our part to advance the security cooperation pillar, so that Nigerians can enjoy the more secure future they all deserve.”

As close partners, the U.S. and Nigeria have worked at ensuring the collaborative relationship continues to grow to include a commitment to interoperability. Nigeria purchased 12 A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft, which will be delivered later this year.

“Nigeria’s purchase of A-29 Super Tucano aircraft is another example of their commitment to interoperability and security in the region,” he added. “Our economic relationship with Nigeria is already strong, and we look forward to the continued strengthening of security relationships. Nigeria’s leaders understand the importance of a collaborative approach to ensuring stability in West Africa and partnering on areas of mutual interest.”

The Commander also met with the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard.

Leonard said: “General Townsend’s visit to Nigeria demonstrates the strategic importance the United States places on our bilateral relationship with Nigeria.

“Our security cooperation partnership with Nigeria’s military will strengthen the country’s capabilities to secure land and sea borders, enhance overall security, and combat terrorism in the North East.”

As part of the visit, Townsend participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Nigeria Military National Cemetery to honour those who have given their lives in the service of their nation.

During the visit, the delegation expressed their condolences for the seven service men killed in the crash of a Nigerian Air Force aircraft in Abuja.