Omololu Ogunmade and Alex Enumah in Abuja
The President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, tuesday said President Muhammadu Buhari’s illness created a volume of anxiety within the rank and file of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Akufo-Addo who made this remark while answering questions from State House correspondents in the Presidential Villa after visiting Buhari, said he was very glad to see the president in his vigorous and lively state.
Ghana’s president who arrived at the State House at about 3:11 p.m. and was received by Buhari in company of his Chief of Staff, Malam Abba Kyari, and other State House officials, later went into a closed-door meeting with the president.
Answering questions after the meeting, Akufo-Addo said he had opted to visit Buhari to see for himself his state of health and how he’s faring, pointing out that the 30 minutes he spent with him was not a dull moment as the president was “vigorous and engaging” in all issues they discussed.
Akufo-Addo who also said he discussed issues affecting ECOWAS community with Buhari, added that he was returning to Ghana with excitement that following Buhari’s wellbeing, it is well with Nigeria which he described as Ghana’s big brother.
“I came from Accra today to visit my senior brother, President Buhari. All of us have been very anxious about his wellbeing and it was a very good news that he had returned. As an African, I have to come and see for myself how he is. I am very delighted to see that he is back, very vigorous as always, very engaging on the issues of our day.
“We had a good half an hour together, reviewing matters both in Ghana and Nigeria as well as immediate matters about what is going on in the ECOWAS community. So, I am happy that I have this opportunity to come, and I am going back to Ghana very fortified to tell the Ghanaian nation that our big brother Nigeria is well and things are well,” Akufo-Addo said.
Akufo-Addo also said both of them reviewed issues affecting both countries. “We reviewed issues of interest to both countries and those of the ECOWAS,” he added.
Also speaking on the meeting of the two West African leaders, Buhari’s chief spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, said the visit would further strengthen bilateral relations between Nigeria and Ghana.
According to Adesina, it is significant that two notable countries in West Africa are maintaining such a cordial relationship.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) tuesday called on the private sector to be fully involved in peace initiatives within the sub-region, noting that outside the loss of lives of people during conflicts, businesses and investors suffer more.
Similarly, renowned Economist, Prof Pat Utomi, said that if the private sector must thrive in Nigeria and the ECOWAS region, it must begin a conscious investment in peace and security of the region.
Utomi who was speaking at the opening of the on-going two-day conference on leveraging the power of the private sector in conflict prevention in West Africa, identified a zero-some mindset as responsible for most of the conflicts ravaging most countries in the region.
The conference is sponsored by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in conjunction with the German department for Foreign Investment (GIZ).
Utomi warned that if something is not done urgently, the nation and the entire sub-region could descend into anarchy.
“Politicians were doing things wrong but, we were too comfortable to speak. Until we all get involved, the price would be paid by everyone. And If we do nothing, the region could descend into anarchy”, he said.
“Everybody has a duty to invest into the future to prevent anarchy”.
ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace building and Conflicts Resolution, Hajia Amina Ahmed, while declaring the conference open, lamented the increasing banditry in the sub region, which she observed is gradually replacing decent lifestyle.
“Our educational system is in crisis and the resources available are getting meager. This will intensify the struggle for the control of resources thereby leading to more conflicts in the sub region. We need to urgently address the negative effects of resource exploitation and exploration”, she stated.
In a goodwill message, Head of Programme, GIZ Support Programme to the ECOWAS Commission, Ludwig Kirchner, noted that since the private sector seems to be more at the receiving end of most conflicts, it is pertinent for them to come together in identifying what they can contribute in enthroning peace in the region.
He said businesses apart from adhering to sound policies guiding corporate social responsibility, they can contribute to innovative ideas that would help in construction and reconstruction of areas devastated by conflicts.
The conference was aimed at seeking how businesses can advance the cause and course of peace in West Africa.