In line with the decision of regional leaders at their 2013 meeting in Yamoussoukro, Côte d’Ivoire, seven new commissioners of the ECOWAS Commission have resumed duty in February as part of the expansion plans of the community
By Maureen Chigbo
THE expansion of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, Commission got a boost when seven new commissioners resumed duty at its headquarters in Abuja in February. The new commissioners were introduced to the staff and management along with the financial controller for the community at a brief ceremony presided over by Kadré Désiré Ouedraogo, president of the Commission Monday, February 3. Six of the commissioners would head the newly created structures that will see the commission expanded from nine to 15 members following the decision of regional leaders during their 2013 summit in Yamoussoukro, Côte d’Ivoire.
The seven new commissioners were selected out of 21 candidates interviewed by the ad hoc ministerial committee, and the financial controller who was selected out of three candidates. They are Jean-Pierre Ezin (Benin), commissioner for Education, Science and Culture; Isaias Barreto Olimpio da Rosa (Cape Verde),commissioner for Information and Communication Technology (ICT); Kalilou Traoré (Côte d’Ivoire), commissioner for Industry and Private Sector Promotion; Stephen Nartey (Ghana), commissioner for General Administration and Conference; Bangoura Morlaye (Guinea), commissioner for Energy and Mines; Joao José Silva Monteiro (Guinea-Bissau), Commissioner for Human Resources; Fatimata Dia Sow (Senegal), commissioner for Gender and Social Affairs; and Muhammad Sani Bello (Nigeria), financial controller.
At the ceremony, Ouedraogo said their resumption would help improve the capacity of the commission to discharge its mandate to meet the expectations of the leaders and the citizens within the context of the ongoing institutional reform of the ECOWAS. The President, who was meeting the staff for the first time in 2014, used the occasion to convey his best wishes for the new year and urged them to redouble their efforts to enhance their contribution to the positive results achieved by the Community over the years. He hailed the expansion of the commission as a “new step in the community’s development” following the 1993 revision of the ECOWAS Treaty and the 2007 transformation of the defunct executive secretariat into a commission which was meant to engender efficiency.
To the new members of management, the president emphasised the need for cohesion and team spirit while urging the staff to support them to execute their mission, assuring them of the resolve of the old members of management to support them in discharging their responsibilities.
Monteiro, who responded on behalf of his colleagues, assured of the unflinching commitment of the new commissioners to contribute their quota to the realisation of the mandate of the commission as “any privilege creates responsibilities”. While noting ECOWAS’ resolve to build an integrated and more competitive community with a view to eradicating poverty in the sub-region, Monteiro urged the commission’s management and staff to reaffirm their commitment and deploy their expertise to support the new members of management in integrating into the system.
On his part, Haruna Warkani, the staff representative, welcomed the new commissioners and expressed hope that their presence will enable the president of the commission to face less difficulty in executing his mission and the institution to achieve better results. “The staff place high expectations on you to resolve the various pending issues”, said Warkani who also welcomed the creation of the commission for human resources as a good omen for the welfare of the staff. The expansion of the ECOWAS Commission aims to ensure equity between the 15 Member States and inspire a sense of belonging to the Economic Community of West African States, which was established in 1975 in order to facilitate economic development and regional integration as well as promote greater efficiency.
In addition to Ouedraogo (Burkina Faso), and Toga Gayewea McIntosh (Liberia), the vice-president, the other officials of the commission already in place are Ebrima Njie (Gambia), commissioner for Infrastructure, Ibrahim Bocar Ba (Mali), commissioner for Macroeconomic Policy, Ahmed Hamid (Niger), commissioner for Trade, Customs and Free Movement, Salamatu Hussaini Suleiman (Nigeria), commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Khadi Ramatu Saccoh (Sierra Leone), commissioner for Finance, and Lapodini Marc Atouga (Togo), commissioner for Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources.