By Raphael Oni
The Authority of the Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) has given His Excellency; Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana the knot to serve a second one-year term as Chair of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government, and has also nominated the Republic of Senegal as ECOWAS sole candidate to chair the African Union for the period 2022 – 2023.
These were contained in the communiqué issued at the end of the Authority’s Extraordinary Session held via videoconference of February 2nd, 2021, under the chairmanship of His Excellency, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana, and Chair of the Authority, in preparation for the 34th ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union on the election of the new management team of the African Union Commission.
The four-year one-off tenure of current ECOWAS statutory appointees, including the President, vice President and nine Commissioners, ends in February 2022.The Communique said ECOWAS’ next regular Summit in June would consider a report on the institutional reforms.
In the Communiqué, it was further disclosed that in addition to the consideration of the Memorandum on the selection of the Chairperson of the African Union for the 2022 – 2023 period and the proposed mechanism for the nomination of countries in coming years, the Authority also took note of the Report of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers on the harmonization of Member States’ applications for positions in international organizations as well as the Memorandum on the implementation of the ECOWAS institutional reform.
The communiqué instructs the President of the ECOWAS Commission to take the necessary steps to immediately notify the African Union Commission of the nomination. It reads, “The Authority also instructs the President of the Commission to propose, for adoption, at the next Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government, a clear mechanism for the rotation of candidatures to ensure that each Member State has a legitimate opportunity to chair the Assembly of the African Union”.
“To this end, the Authority calls on His Excellency, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana, with the support of the Ministerial Ad hoc Committee on Institutional Reform, to lead reflection on the issue. A Report on this point will be submitted to the Ordinary Session of the Authority to be held in June 2021. To that effect, a general consensus emerged from the Heads of State and Government that H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo continue for a second term as Chair of the ECOWAS Authority”.
The video-conference had several heads of state and government or their designated representatives, including the Nigerian Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo. Other key decisions were:
“The Authority agreed on the order of priority of the Commissioner positions for which ECOWAS nationals are still standing for election by the Assembly of the African Union and made the necessary arbitrations between Member States putting forward candidates for the same position”.
“The Authority decides to prioritise support for the candidature of Nigeria to the post of Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security. Summit decided that the second Commissioner position to be allocated to the West Africa Region will be filled by Burkina Faso, taking into account the gender parity”.
“On the implementation of ECOWAS institutional reform, the Authority reiterates its commitment to the objectives of improved performance and operational efficiency that underpin the institutional reform process, in order to promote the implementation of integration programmes geared towards the economic and social development of the region”.
“The Authority welcomes the status of implementation of the ECOWAS institutional reform, particularly with regard to enhanced financial management and internal control of the Institutions. The Authority notes that the tenure of the current statutory appointees comes to an end in February 2022, and that there is a need to discuss the optimal structure of the new Commission and the other Institutions, modalities for allocation of statutory positions, as well as efforts to streamline ECOWAS operating costs”.