Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari has laid the foundation of the new ECOWAS headquarters Complex in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
President Buhari who performed the ground-breaking ceremony alongside Presidents Umaro Embalo of Guinea Bissau and Julius Mada Bio of Sierra Leone noted that the edifice once completed would represent the unity and brotherhood of the Member-States.
The complex which is donated by the Chinese government to ECOWAS will be known as the “Eye of West Africa” and is expected to be commissioned in February 2025.
President Buhari said that once the three major ECOWAS Intuitions of ECOWAS; the ECOWAS Commission, ECOWAS Parliament and the Community Court of Justice put in one building would strengthen the operationalization of the regional institutions and foster regional integration
He further said that the building would be a befitting edifice to the West African region and the Continent adding that the Nigerian government and ECOWAS Institutions in Abuja had agreed to consolidate ECOWAS operations in one complex, a departure from operating at three different locations.
The new complex according to President Buhari would represent the unity and brotherhood of the Member-States, as well as signify a re-commitment to progress and regional integration.
” It will be our home and a regional rallying point.
“Today is great day for our Sub-Regional Organisation, ECOWAS. It is also a great day for China-ECOWAS Partnership.
“We have waited for this day, since 10th of July, 2019, when ECOWAS and the Peoples Republic of China signed an implementation agreement for this diplomatic gift to the West African States.
“This no doubt represents China’s commitment to our sub-regional organisation.
“I am therefore, particularly delighted for the singular honour to welcome everyone to this important day in our regional organisation’s history, as we celebrate the official ground-breaking ceremony of our new ECOWAS Headquarters Building.
“Permit me to express our profound gratitude to the government of the People’s Republic of China for committing to building a befitting new complex to house our Sub-Regional Organisation.
“This arena, where today’s ceremony is taking place, when completed, would house the three major ECOWAS Institutions, namely the ECOWAS Commission, the Community Court of Justice and the Parliament, which China is committed to building.
“The agreement between the Peoples Republic of China and ECOWAS has been a long and slow process, which started with a vision, to build the Eye of West Africa. This was envisioned as an all-inclusive architectural phenomenon.
“I want to extend my warmest appreciation to the Government of the People’s Republic of China, for their financial and technical contribution to ensuring that a monument of this nature, is built on behalf of our region.
“The Contractors have informed us that “The Eye of West Africa” will be ready in Twenty-Six Months. I have no doubt in their ability to deliver as promised. We look forward to its commissioning in February 2025, God – Willing,” President Buhari said.
President Umaro Sissoco Embalo of Guinea Bissau, who is also the Chairman of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government thanked the Chinese government for the unique support to ECOWAS which he said signifies a true commitment to partnership and friendship.
“We thank the government of Nigeria for its support to ECOWAS and the government of China for this unique support to this project which ECOWAS needs for its success.
“I am convinced that with this new headquarters, the staff shall function in the best condition so that they are able to deliver their duties. I wish we will all be alive to witness the inauguration,” Embalo said.
President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr Omar Alieu Toray, said that the building of the complex to house community institutions in one building will enhance operational efficiency, reduce cost and increase productivity.
“Currently, the Commission itself operates in three separate buildings within Abuja. Operating in these separate buildings have brought about many operational, financial and logistical challenge.
“It was therefore considered necessary] y to have a modern edifice fit for the purpose of office accommodation that will enable the commission to accommodate all its staff in one complex
“Which hopefully will result in operational efficiency, reduced cost and increased productivity.
“For the development of the land, we requested our partners, the government of China which agreed to provide financial and technical support within the framework of the ECOWAS-China partnership.
“We are very appreciative of the friendship and partnership with the Chinese government,” Touray said.
Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Cui Jianchun said that the event is a very remarkable one to the Chinese government and President Xi Jinping as this shows China’s true and genuine commitment to West Africa and Africa’s development.
Cui said that “this will further set a new part to the China-ECOWAS friendship.”
The ground-breaking ceremony of the ECOWAS Headquarters will be followed by the 62nd Ordinary Session of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government Summit also in Abuja, the Nigerian capital.