Nigeria has moved to consolidate her cross border relations with neighbouring West African countries with the inauguration of the National Platform on the ECOWAS Cross Border Cooperation (CBC) Support Programme (2021-2025).
The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, and Chairman, International Boundaries Technical Committee, Amb. Zubairu Dada, while performing the inauguration on Tuesday, 17 August, 2021 in Abuja noted that the overall goal of the new ECOWAS Cross Border Cooperation Programme is to strengthen cooperation and good relations amongst ECOWAS member states, in order to ensure free movement of people, goods and services.
He stated also that 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.
Dada said: “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”.
The Minister of State added that the National Platform is expected to play a vital role in the coordination of this Programme at the National level, while listing part of the roles and responsibilities of the platform to include: coordinating and managing national cross border cooperation, and multi-sectoral actions at local and national levels.
Others 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.
Also; 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.
He stated that, “the National Boundary Commission and ECOWAS National Unit of this Ministry will be the Secretariat responsible for coordinating the National Platform. In this connection, I urge you to put in your very best to safeguard Nigeria’s national interest even as you emphasize the promotion of regional cooperation and integration”.
He emphasized 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.”