ECOWAS President said the bills of peace building troops sent to Guinea Bissau and Mali were yet to be paid due to financial distress facing the regional institution.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has come under intense financial distress that is threatening to bring some of its statutory functions and projects to a halt.
The President of ECOWAS Marcel De Souza, at the weekend expressed frustration over the paucity of funds currently affecting the commission.
De Souza was speaking in Abuja when he led a delegation from the ECOWAS on a courtesy visit to the minister of state for foreign affairs, Khadijat Abba –Ibrahim.
“We have certain challenges that we are facing. The first is our financial situation that has become quite precarious and the precarious situation is tied to the economic situation in the members’ states and the fact that the price of oil has dropped, particularly affecting Nigeria.”
The ECOWAS chief said that the community levy, which represents 90 per cent of commission’s funding, is no longer regularly paid by most member states.
He said that Cote d’Ivoire, Cape Verde and Senegal were major defaulters, but also stressed that the greater challenge lies with Nigeria.
“We see that the greatest challenge lies with Nigeria, as the arrears Nigeria is owing amount to $694 thousand and there was no payment made by the country between 2015 and 2016,” De Souza explained.
According to him, debts owed the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, where the commission’s meeting of all heads of states was held in 2015, have not been settled till date, and because of the debt burden it carries, ECOWAS is now losing its credibility.
He also added that the bills of peace building troops sent to Guinea Bissau and Mali were yet to be paid, stressing further that that peace comes with a cost that must be paid.
In his words, “we wish to see our credibility restored. We appeal to Nigeria that the outstanding bill between 2015 and 2016 be paid, as 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.”
The minister, in her response, said that the issue of finance raised should be brought before President Mohammadu Buhari during the visit of the ECOWAS delegation to him.
She said that other issues raised would be discussed in due course, especially the issue of accommodation, which she noted would be discussed with the minister of the Federal Capital Territory.
She pledged to assist ECOWAS to secure a guest house for its president through the FCT Minister so that the commission would no longer incur further hotel bills.
According to her, the issue of security is a thing of general concern and that it is necessary that forces are paid on time to give them the incentives to fight terrorism.
Source: Financial Watch