After more than three years of negotiations, 15 nations signed a treaty at an historic summit meeting in Lagos on Wednesday (28 May) formally establishing the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
GV INTERIOR Delegates seated around tables
SV (left to right) Presidents Ould Daddah (Mauritania) and Houphouet-Boigny (Ivory Coast) and Head-of-State Gen. Gowon (Nigeria) enter
SV Newsmen film as agreements handed out for signatures (2 shots)
SV Ould Dadah prepares to sign
SCU Mali representative prepares to sign
CU Senegal representative signs
CU Sierra Leone President Stevens signs
CU Togo President Eyadema signs
CU The Upper Volta President Lamizana signs
CU Ghana representative signs
CU Gowon signs for Nigeria
CU Guinea-Bissau President Cabral signs
CU Ivory Coast President Houphouet-Boigny signs
GV Delegates around table surrounded by newsmen
CU Gowon speaking
TRANSCRIPT: SEQ. 16: GOWON: "This is indeed an historic occasion. For the first time in the political and economic history of this continent the heads of sovereign states and governments in the West African sub-region have attended their signatures to an economic treaty which provides a flexible and workable framework for promoting the economic and social aspirations of our peoples. We have cause to congratulate ourselves for taking this momentous decision, which once implemented will enable us progressively to take our economic destiny in our hands. In a way, the signing of this treaty should be seen as an important milestone in the process of economic decolonisation of the African continent, without which our political independence will remain circumscribed and incomplete."
Initials CL/1940 CL/2000
This film contains a speech in English by General Gowon.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: After more than three years of negotiations, 15 nations signed a treaty at an historic summit meeting in Lagos on Wednesday (28 May) formally establishing the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
The 65-clause economic charter will need final ratification by at least seven of the signatory countries before it legally comes into force, but this is expected to be finalised within a few weeks.
The member nations are: Nigeria, Niger, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, The Upper Volta, Guinea, Sierra Leone, The Gambia, Liberia, ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Dahomey and Guinea-Bissau.
The birth of ECOWAS comes three years after the first joint initiative of President Gnassingbe Eyadema of Togo and Nigeria's Head-of-State, General Yakubu Gowon.
The treaty is expected to standardise tariffs and trade procedures among the member states.
An immediate benefit will be that all citizens of the West African sub-region will be able to move freely through the member countries without visas and will also be free to work and live without residence permits.