Nigeria’s pivotal role in regional development and integration in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was further strengthened on Friday with the official opening of the building housing the Permanent Mission of Nigeria to ECOWAS.
The inauguration was led by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nigeria, Geoffrey Onyeama, who was accompanied by dignitaries from the sub-region, including the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubairu Dada; the Permanent Representative of Nigeria to ECOWAS, Musa Nuhu; the President of the ECOWAS Parliament, Sidie Mohamed Tunis, among others.
The building located in the Asokoro intellectual district in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, is a reflection of Nigeria’s constructive engagements in ECOWAS activities and events, which will also ensure that Nigeria continues to provide leadership and responsibilities in the sub-region. .
It is imperative to emphasize that the Permanent Mission of Nigeria has done everything possible to ensure that ECOWAS is fit for purpose and meets the aspirations of the Founding Fathers.
Speaking to reporters about the importance of the Permanent Mission, the 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 an environment very good for our permanent representative to ECOWAS function.”
He further said that the Mission also provides a forum for other countries in the region to interact with Nigeria on issues of common interest.
“Our contribution is what we do from here; we do it in accordance with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” Dada said.
The Permanent Representative of Nigeria to ECOWAS, Musa Nuhu, told reporters during the inauguration that “The Nigerian Permanent Mission to ECOWAS is part of the 110 Nigerian Missions we have abroad, but the ECOWAS Mission is unique. because it is created here in Abuja, in In other words, Nigeria has one of its diplomatic missions located in Abuja and not abroad”.
He added that this development complies with a decision made by the heads of state of the regional bloc that the 15 ECOWAS member states must have an accredited permanent representative to ECOWAS.
He further said that the “Permanent Mission serves as a link between our regional organizations and member states. Therefore, the mission is to play and liaise between ECOWAS and the Government of Nigeria. It also coordinates all ECOWAS related issues, both thematic and sectoral issues that ECOWAS deals with”.
The Permanent Mission of Nigeria to ECOWAS is one of 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 accordance with the provisions of Article 8 (la & b) of the ECOWAS Supplementary Law 2010 which defined the functions of the Permanent Representatives of the Member States to ECOWAS and entrusted all Member States to accredit a Permanent Representative to the Institution.
This Mission, which has similar functions to the Permanent Mission of the United States to the United Nations Headquarters in New York and the Permanent Mission of Ethiopia to the Headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa, among others, is unique in that it has its headquarters 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 pioneering Permanent Representative; Babatunde Anyinla Nurudeen, former Immediate Permanent Representative; and Musa Sani Nuhu, incumbent Permanent Representative.
Given the importance 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 furthering its foreign policy objectives.
Therefore, the Mission is considered essential for the articulation and advancement of Nigeria’s positions and commitments with other West African Member States on multilateral issues and community institutions, on matters of regional importance. In other words, the Mission serves as a think tank for Nigeria’s foreign policy administration in the sub-region.
While the Permanent Mission was originally designed to be a smart Mission, consisting solely of the Ambassador and the Finance Attaché, efforts have been made over the past three years to reposition the Mission and make it function as a full-fledged multilateral Mission. , similar to the Nigerian Missions in Addis Ababa, New York and Geneva.
With the strategic plans developed for the Mission, steps were taken to enable it to closely monitor all ECOWAS activities through the introduction of a group system and Mission Officers were trained to be familiar with each topic or sectoral issue in ECOWAS. The Mission has also initiated regular but diplomatically appropriate interface with relevant Nigerian MDAs, particularly those with a mandate on ECOWAS matters, for cross-fertilization of ideas in the formulation of national positions on ECOWAS issues.
Following the beginning of the implementation of the African Union Principle of Subsidiarity and Complementarity, it was the Regional Economic Communities (RECs), which are considered the building blocks for African integration and were given more responsibilities for coordinating regional positions on issues continental and global, the Mission has become even more strategic.
The Mission now plays a broader role in pursuing Nigerian interests, not only on ECOWAS-related issues, but also on other continental and global issues related to the sub-region. To do this effectively, the Mission regularly interacts with the Nigerian Mission in Addis Ababa, and by extension with other Nigerian multilateral Missions, with a view to ensuring that Nigerian interests are promoted harmoniously in all international fora.
It should also be noted that the Mission also provides essential services to ECOWAS institutions. Since ECOWAS does not have a Special Representative Office in Nigeria, the Mission assumes that role for the Commission and other community institutions in Nigeria, helping these institutions to carry out their functions in the country smoothly. Similarly, given Nigeria’s pivotal role in the region, the Nigerian Permanent Mission to ECOWAS also contributes technically to shaping regional outcomes and the efficient functioning of ECOWAS as a regional organization.