Osinbajo welcomes new ECOWAS chair, pledges Nigeria’s support

– Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on Wednesday, June 7 received Togolese President, Mr Faure Gnassingbe

– Gnassingbe visited Nigeria in his capacity as the newly-elected Chairman of ECOWAS

– Osinbajo however failed to give reasons why Nigeria shunned the regional body’s last meeting

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on Wednesday, June 7 received Mr Faure Gnassingbe, Togolese President and newly-elected Chairman of ECOWAS at the Presidential Villa, and assured him of Nigeria’s support to the regional body.

Osinbajo told the visiting leader that “Nigeria will support you in every way and we are very happy with your election.

“I know that President Muhammadu Buhari will give every measure of support required because he will want you to succeed very much.”

The acting President added that the Buhari administration was pleased that President Gnassingbe visited Nigeria almost immediately after his election to lead the regional body.

He gave the assurance that Nigeria would continue to play an active role in ECOWAS.

He also assured the Togolese President that President Buhari held him in high regard as a person and considered him a friend.

Osinbajo however kept mute on why Nigeria was absent from the 51st ECOWAS Summit of Heads of State and Government which was held on Saturday, June 3 in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, with Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, in attendance.

Foreign affairs analysts claim Nigeria stayed away from the event in solidarity with Morroco’s King Mohammed VI who had canceled his trip to the summit due to the attendance of Netanyahu. King Mohammed VI had earlier indicated his country’s interest to join the West African body.

The Moraccan King’s closeness to President Muhammadu Buhari is an open secret. Aso Rock is yet to give reasons for not attending the event. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo was however in attendance.

Osinbajo, who congratulated Gnassingbe on his election as ECOWAS chairman, assured him that Nigeria was concerned about regional issues and would continue to explore resolutions in partnership with other member-states.

The acting president also welcomed the continued consultations on the issue of Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between ECOWAS and the European Union (EU) while observing also that each country had peculiar challenges.

He expressed the hope that the spirit of ECOWAS — brotherhood, would be helpful in addressing some of the issues confronting the regional body.

Earlier, the new ECOWAS leader had told the acting President that he was at the villa for consultation because Nigeria was an important player in issues of the regional body.

He said as the ECOWAS chairman, he would be involved in frequent exchanges and consultations with Nigeria, considering Nigeria’s role in the region.

The Togolese President also said he wanted the relationship between his country and Nigeria to remain very close.(NAN)

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s former minister of aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode has condemned the absence of Nigeria at the event, describing it as sad and shameful.

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