Nigeria’s pivotal role in the development and regional integration in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was further strengthened on Friday with the Official inauguration of the building housing Nigeria’s Permanent Mission to ECOWAS.
The unveiling was done by Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, who was accompanied by dignitaries within the sub-region, including the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubairu Dada; Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to ECOWAS, Musa Nuhu; the Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Sidie Mohamed Tunis among others.
The edifice located at the highbrow Asokoro District in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, is a reflection of Nigeria’s constructive engagements in ECOWAS activities and events, which will also ensure that Nigeria continues to provide leadership and shouldering responsibilities in the sub-region.
It is imperative to emphasize that Nigeria’s Permanent Mission has gone over and above just to ensure that ECOWAS becomes fit for purpose and delivers on the aspirations of the Founding Fathers.
Speaking to reporters on the significance of the Permanent Mission, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubairu Dada said “The building is supposed to represent Nigeria’s presence in ECOWAS, it is supposed to provide a very good environment for our permanent representative to ECOWAS to function.”
He said further that the Mission also provides a forum for other countries in the region to interact with Nigeria on issues of common interests.
“Our contribution is what we do from here; we do it in consent with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” Dada said.
Nigeria’s Permanent Representative To the ECOWAS, Musa Nuhu, told reporters during the inauguration that “The Permanent Mission of Nigeria To ECOWAS is part of the 110 Nigerian Missions that we have abroad but that of ECOWAS is unique because it is created here in Abuja, in other words, Nigeria has one of its diplomatic missions situated in Abuja and not abroad.”
He added that this development was in compliance with a decision taken by heads of states of the regional bloc that all 15 member states of ECOWAS must have a permanent representative accredited to ECOWAS.
He said further that the “Permanent Mission serves as a link between our regional organizations and member states. Therefore, the mission is to play and serve as a link between ECOWAS and the Government of Nigeria. It also coordinates all issues regarding ECOWAS both thematic and sectoral issues that ECOWAS is dealing with”.
The Permanent Mission of Nigeria to ECOWAS is one of the over One Hundred (100) Nigerian Diplomatic Missions.
The request for the establishment of the Mission was approved by former President Goodluck Jonathan, in 2012, in compliance with the provisions of Article 8(la&b) of the ECOWAS 2010 Supplementary Act which defined the Roles of the Permanent Representatives of Member States to ECOWAS and mandated all Member States to accredit a Permanent Representative to the Institution.
This Mission, which is similar in function to the United States Permanent Mission to the United Nations Headquarters in New York, and the Ethiopian Permanent Mission to the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, amongst others, is unique as it is based in Abuja and enjoys diplomatic status.
It is important to mention that since its establishment, this strategic Mission has been headed by three (3) substantive Ambassadors namely: Sunday Omoigiade, the pioneer Permanent Representative; Babatunde Anyinla Nurudeen, the immediate past Permanent Representative; and Musa Sani Nuhu, the incumbent Permanent Representative.
Given the importance that Nigeria attaches to developments in the West African Sub-region, the Permanent Mission of Nigeria to ECOWAS is considered one of Nigeria’s most strategic diplomatic Missions, as well as an important platform for advancing its foreign policy objectives.
Therefore, the Mission is considered critical for the articulation and advancement of Nigeria’s positions and engagements with other West African Member States on multilateral issues and Community Institutions, on matters of regional importance. In order words, the Mission serves as a think tank for the administration of Nigeria’s foreign policy in the sub-region.
Although the Permanent Mission was originally designed to be a smart Mission, made up of only the Ambassador and the Finance Attaché, efforts have been made, in the last three years, to reposition the Mission and make it function as a full-blown multilateral Mission, similar to the Nigerian Missions in Addis Ababa, New York, and Geneva.
With the unfolded strategic plans for the Mission, measures were adopted to enable it keenly monitor all ECOWAS activities through the introduction of a cluster system and Officers at the Mission were trained to be conversant with each thematic/sectoral issue in ECOWAS. The Mission has also begun regular but diplomatically appropriate interface with relevant Nigerian MDAs, particularly those with the mandate on ECOWAS matters, for the cross fertilization of ideas in the formulation of national positions on ECOWAS issues.
Following the commencement of the implementation of African Union Principle of Subsidiarity and Complimentarity, were the Regional Economic Communities (RECs), which are seen as the building blocks for African integration and given more responsibilities for the coordination of regional positions on continental and global issues, the Mission has become even more strategic.
The Mission now plays an extended role in pursuing Nigeria’s interest, not only on issues under ECOWAS, but also on other continental and global issues with bearing on the sub-region. To do this effectively, the Mission regularly interfaces with the Nigerian Mission in Addis Ababa and by extension, other Nigerian Multilateral Missions, with a view to ensuring that Nigeria’s interests are harmoniously advanced at all international fora.
It is also to be noted that the Mission equally renders essential services to ECOWAS Institutions. Given that ECOWAS does not have a Special Representative Office in Nigeria, the Mission undertakes that function for the Commission and other Community Institutions in Nigeria, which helps these institutions carry out their functions in the country smoothly. Equally, given Nigeria’s pivotal role in the region, the Permanent Mission of Nigeria to ECOWAS also contributes technically to the shaping of regional outcomes and the efficient functioning of ECOWAS as a regional Organization.