The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama yesterday said Nigeria was represented at the 51st ECOWAS Summit of Heads of State and Government in Liberia.
Onyeama, however, did not mention the Nigerian government representatives at the summit, which was also attended by Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
The minister was responding to a question on why Nigeria was absent at the summit, which ended on Sunday in Monrovia, Liberia’s capital.
When asked further on the country’s absence at such crucial meeting, Onyeama insisted that “Nigeria was represented. Nigeria was adequately represented at the summit.”
Former president Olusegun Obasanjo was at the summit. But it was not certain if he attended on behalf of the Nigerian government or in his capacity as an elder statesman in the West African region.
Of the 15 countries ECOWAS community, 12 heads of state attended the summit.
Presidents of Benin, Patrice Talon; Niger’s Mahamadou Issoufou and Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria were absent.
Morocco’s King Mohammed VI, who was expected to push for his country to join the West African bloc as a full member cancelled his trip due to the Israeli leader’s attendance.
Speaking at the summit, Netanyahu urged the ECOWAS leaders to reject anti-Israel bias at the United Nations and other international organisations in return for $1billion investments, Aljazeera reported.
Meanwhile, the West African leaders, in a communiqué issued at the end of the summit, invited the Moroccan, Tunisian and Mauritanian leaders to the 52nd Ordinary Session, which will hold in December, 2017 in Lome, Togo.
The leaders agreed “in principle” to Morocco’s accession to the Community, due to its strong ties with West Africa.
They, however, asked the Commission to examine the implications of such accession in accordance with the Revised Treaty of ECOWAS, and to submit the results at their next session.
The leaders asked Mauritania, a former member state, to submit a readmission application to the ECOWAS. They also granted observer status to Tunisia.
Other decisions of the summit included the trimming down of the number of ECOWAS commissioners from 15 to nine.
In terms of security, the Summit decided to extend the mandate of the ECOWAS Missions in Guinea-Bissau (ECOMIB) and Gambia (ECOMIG) to three and 12 months respectively.