The President of ECOWAS, Mr Marcel De Souza, on Thursday, expressed frustration over the paucity of fund being experienced by the commission.
De Souza, a Béninoise, was speaking in Abuja when he led a delegation from the commission to a courtesy visit on the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Mrs Khadijat Abba-Ibrahim.
He appealed to Nigeria and other member states to rescue the commission by paying up their outstanding levies.
“We have certain challenges that we are facing. The first is our financial situation that has become quite precarious.
“The situation is tied to the economic condition in the member states and the fact that the price of oil has dropped.
“The community levy which represents 90 per cent of our funding is no longer regularly paid by most member states; Nigeria is not alone in this regard, also Cote D’Ivoire,” he said.
He said that Cote D’Ivoire, Cape Verde and Senegal were major defaulters, but the greater challenge was Nigeria.
“We see that the greatest challenge lies with Nigeria. The arrears that Nigeria is owning is 694,000 dollars because there was no payment made between 2015 and 2016.
“Because of the debt burden it carries, ECOWAS is now losing its credibility,” the president said.
According to him, Transcorp Hilton where meeting of all Heads of State was held in 2015 had not been settled by the commission.
He added that the bills of peace building troop sent to Guinea Bissau and Mali were yet to be paid, stressing that peace would always come with a cost.
“So, we wish to see our credibility restored. We appeal to Nigeria that the outstanding bill between 2015 and 2016 be paid.
“Without Nigeria and without Nigeria’s contribution we will not be able to sustain our activities neither we will be able to restore our credibility,” he said.
The minister congratulated the president on his appointment, stressing that his vast experience would help in addressing the challenges of the commission.
She said that the issue of finance raised should be brought before President Muhammadu Buhari in as much that ECOWAS delegation would visit him latter.
She said that other issues raised would be discussed in due course.
The minister said that she would discuss the issue of accommodation raised earlier by the ECOWAS leader with her counterpart in the Federal Capital Territory.
She pledged to assist the commission to secure a guest house for its president through the FCT minister so that it would not incur further hotel bills.
According to her, the issue of security is a thing of general concern and that it is necessary that troops are paid on time to give them the incentives to fight terrorism. (NAN)