Nigeria News

ECOWAS Backs Nigeria for Security Council

ECOWASAfrica’s absence unjust, says Spanish PM.  At a time the visiting Prime Minister of Spain, Jose Zapatero, described Africa’s lack of a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council as “gross injustice”, leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have endorsed the candidature of Nigeria for a seat on the council.
President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas, disclosed this in Abuja on Monday, according to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
Chambas was addressing journalists at the end of the Commission’s 36th Ordinary Session of Authority of Heads of States and Governments.
“The leaders, in throwing their support behind Nigeria, reiterated the acceptance of the principle of rotation of the non-permanent seat of  the UN Security Council,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister of Spain has said Africa’s lack of a permanent seat on the Security Council was unjust given the fact that 30 per cent of the council’s deliberations focus on the continent.
Zapatero, who said he was impressed with Nigeria’s aspiration of being among the 20 most powerful countries in the world in economic terms by the year 2020, assured Nigeria of his country’s readiness to work to correct the injustice.
There are currently five permanent members of the council – US, UK, Russia, China and France – each having a veto power.
At a joint conference with President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua after bilateral talks between the two leaders at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Zapatero said through an interpreter “that reality (absence of Africa on UN security council) has to change”, and that his country was working towards finding ways of addressing such injustice.
He referred to the efforts and contributions of Nigeria and other African countries in several UN-backed peace keeping missions as reasons why Africa’s absence on the Security Council ought not be condoned any further.
According to him, “we have talked about the international order, we have talked about peace, we have talked about security, we have talked about an African perspective and also from a worldwide perspective. Spain has peacekeeping operations in Africa and in other places.
“Nigeria, for example, participates as well in UN peacekeeping operations, it is a great contributor. This brings me to what the Nigerian President said and I think is a very important thing. We have talked about security, the reform of the Security Council in the UN. President Yar’Adua said 30 per cent of all the matters that the UN Security Council deals with in its steady works concern Africa but nevertheless no African country is represented in the UN Security Council. That is a reality that has to change; it needs to change. Nigeria plays a role of leadership and Spain will be working for the change in Security Council and will not cover this injustice that does not represent what Nigeria does and the way it has in the continent.”
He regretted the prevalence of illegal migration of Africans to Spain and European countries despite the opportunities of legal immigration offered and supported by Spanish authorities.
The Spanish leader attributed part of the problem to the situation in the African countries and announced efforts by Spain to ameliorate the situation through offers of assistance on health, agriculture, skills acquisition and training.
He expressed delight that these contributions have helped in reducing illegal immigration.
“There is a common immigration policy between sub-Saharan Africa and Spain. There are two pillars on which it is based on legal immigration which is linked to a job. Spain welcomes very many legal emigrants and this is something we require to do based on projects and agreement with countries and that is something that is increasing all the time,” he said.
Zapatero, who is the first Spanish Prime Minister to visit Nigeria, said Spain was improving relations with Africa and disclosed that it had spent 1.4 billion euros in 2008 for specific humanitarian programmes like vaccines for about one million children; bed nets for over 12 million children and for improving gender equality.
“On the bilateral sphere on relations with Nigeria, we have talked about energy, oil and gas but also we have talked a great deal about renewable energy, we have talked about the potential that Nigeria has, the future ahead of it, infrastructure, rail infrastructure, water treatment and a potential enhancing the presence of Spanish companies here in these sectors working along with Nigerian companies,” he said.
In response to a question by a Spanish journalist on his position regarding death penalty, President Yar’Adua said he supported the implementation of any laws prescribed for punishment of crimes and offences, whether death or any other sanctions.
“All penalties, not only death, are based on laws,. Where the laws specify any punishment then it must be obeyed. That is a straight forward issue; societies should be governed by laws,” said Yar’Adua.

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