By Joy Odor
The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, and Chairman, International Boundaries Technical Committee, Ambassador Zubairu Dada has reminded that the overall goal of the new ECOWAS Cross Border Cooperation (CBC) Programme being inaugurated is to strengthen cooperation and good relations amongst ECOWAS member states to ensure free movement of people, goods and services.
Ambassador Zubairu Dada gave the reminder during the inauguration of the National Platform on the ECOWAS Cross Border Cooperation(CBC) Support Programme (2021-2025) in Abuja on Tuesday.
The Minister of State said the National Platform is expected to play a vital role in the coordination of the Programme at the National level, which include andthe coordinating managing national cross border cooperation, and multi-sectoral actions at Local and National Levels.
Others, he said, are to serve as Technical Steering Committee at the National Level and as Framework for Consultation, Guidance and Coordination; To validate cross border cooperation Initiatives selected for financing and implementation at Local and National Levels; To ensure better coordination of cross border cooperation Initiatives between Regional, Zonal, National and Local levels and Prioritize Actions, to support ECOWAS Fund Management Unit and Zonal implementing Agency in Identification, Management, monitoring and Evaluation of Project Implementation at State Level; and To monitor and act as Liaison between National, Local, Zonal and Regional Levels amongst others.
According to him, the CBC Support Programme is expected to consolidate cross border relations between Nigeria and her neighbours in the West African sub-region.
“There is a consensus understanding that Cross border cooperation is superior to unilateral action in the development of border regions and the facilitation of the much-desired regional integration, adding that this fact has necessitated the need to establish a national platform to serve as a springboard for the facilitation of the much needed cooperation.
“Many Protocols, Treaties and Decisions have been adopted by the ECOWAS member states, to bring down barrier between us, key among which is the decision to adopt the concept of Cross Border Cooperation.
“This framework between inextricable and contiguous neighbours was adopted by the Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS in January 2006 as a necessary mechanism for the transformation of border areas into zones of exchange and bridges of cooperation” ambassador Dada said.
The Minister of State explained that the National Boundary Commission and ECOWAS National Unit of this Ministry would be the Secretariat responsible for coordinating the National Platform.
He urged CBC to put in their best to safeguard Nigeria’s national interest even as they emphasize the promotion of regional cooperation and integration.
He assured that Nigeria would continue to work with the ECOWAS Community in achieving not only the objectives of the initiative but also greater economic integration in line with the vision of the founding fathers.
“It is on this note that I have the honour and privilege to inaugurate this National Platform to the glory of God and for the benefit of Nigeria and the entire sub-region”, he concluded.
In his remarks, the representative of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr Ismail Dangu expressed gratitude that Nigeria is the first member state to put in place the national platform.
He noted that this shows the engagement of the country to promote cross border cooperation.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Director General, National Boundary Commission, Surveyor Adamu Adaji, said the programme is a very important one for the desired efforts of integrating African States.
He opined that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) endorsed the concept of cross border cooperation as a strategy to facilitate free movement of people, goods and services across the West African borders.
“ln exemplifying the endorsement of the concept of cross-border cooperation, ECOWAS in collaboration with member states launched the first four (4) cross-border pilot initiatives, which includes the Kano Katsina-Maradi Corridor (K2M) which is now expanded to include Kano-Jigawa-Zinder (K2M-KJZ).
“The outcome of the pilot initiatives ushered in the development of additional trans-border corridors.
“The newly adopted cross border cooperation Support Programme (2021 — 2025) will cut across 15 member states of ECOWAS with the new corridors to include: Ghana~Togo—Benin-Nigeria (GHATOBENN), Burkina-Ghana-Céte d’Ivoire (BGCT), Benin-Niger-Nigeria (BNN), and Benin-Burkina-Togo (BBT)” he said.
While congratulating members for the fortunate and worthy opportunity to serve, Surveyor Adaji listed the objective of this new cross-border cooperation Programme to include; strengthen cooperation; promote integration and development across borders; promote regional peace and security; manage migration dynamics and free movement; and support joint socio-economic development initiatives.