Buhari’s delay stalls Netahyahu’s visit for Israel-ECOWAS summit

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There seems to be a growing rift between Nigeria and the other 14 members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

The bone of contention is over Nigeria’s refusal to sign an invitation to the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, for a two-day summit.

Annually, Israeli top officials hold special sessions with member-countries in the sub-region, but this year that country’s Prime Minister, after touring some African countries came up with the idea of a summit with ECOWAS countries, to be held before the end of the year.

But an Israeli official Newspaper, the Jerusalem Post, on Monday reported that despite all pressure, Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, had declined to sign off on the summit, citing undiplomatic ties between the Jewish state and Nigeria.

The ECOWAS President Marcel Alain De Souza, who doubles as the President of Benin Republic, and Buhari were said to have met twice on the matter, yet the Nigerian leader refused to bulge.

During a visit to Israel last month, the ECOWAS President invited Netanyahu to a summit with all leaders of the economic community expected to attend.

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De Souza and Netanyahu signed a declaration of intent for greater cooperation between the Jewish state and the West African group.

However, for the special summit to hold, all member-nations, especially Nigeria, need to approve, and almost all but Nigeria has given the needed go-ahead, a source close to ECOWAS said.

According to Foreign Relations experts, under its former leader, Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria and Israel had a good relationship, but it has gone bad since the change of administration, giving room to a number of speculations.

It is not yet clear what will be the fate of the summit, which is expected to see Israel pledge aides towards uplifting some of the countries in the region currently facing economic challenges, as it is meant to proffer solutions to a number of issues, including advancement of technology in some related areas, among them insecurity and food growth.

Netanyahu, according to one of his aides has made it part of his agenda to improve Israeli-African relations, a move that saw him in July visiting five countries in East Africa in a campaign to cultivate trade ties.

By Emma Eke…




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