ECOWAS’ Chairman Calls For Creation Of Regional Force

By Adoba Echono

 

President Bola Tinubu of Nigeria has called on Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to work towards the establishment and sustenance of a regional standby force for the security and economic advancement of the region.

 

President Tinubu made the call while speaking at the 65th Ordinary Session of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government in Abuja, Nigeria.

The Nigerian President, whose tenure was renewed for a second term as Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, highlighted the expediency of a standby force in the face of growing security threats.

 

According to him : “The regional action plan against terrorism has enhanced cooperation on training, intelligence sharing, and humanitarian interventions. In addition to this, the Ministers of Finance and Defence met recently in Abuja to raise funds for activating the ECOWAS Standby Force to boost counter-terrorism efforts.

 

“Member countries are also displaying their commitment to combating insecurity by individually increasing their defence budgets in order to acquire necessary equipment and ensure preparedness.”

 

President Tinubu urged member states to commit more to providing the needed resources for securing the region, saying: “Let me underscore that a peaceful and secure society is essential for achieving our potential. As we move to operationalise the ECOWAS Standby Force (ESF) in combating terrorism, I must emphasise that the success of this plan requires not only strong political will but also substantial financial resources.

 

“We must, therefore, ensure that we meet the expectations and recommendations set forth by our Ministers of Defence and Finance, in order to counter insecurity and stabilise our region.”

President Tinubu also enjoined ECOWAS leaders to leverage the capabilities of Nigeria’s National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC), which he said has been widely acknowledged as one of the best on the continent.

 

He said his government has decided to make the NCTC a regional centre to enable all ECOWAS member states to benefit from capacity building and other related opportunities it offers.

 

The Nigerian leader also advised ECOWAS leaders to re-align and reposition its priorities by reducing overheads and setting up in-country steering committees.

 

Meanwhile, President Tinubu has appointed the President of Senegal Basiru Faye as the special mediator between ECOWAS and Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger Republic.

 

He said the regional body would deploy all avenues for negotiation with the three countries in a bid to ensure that they rescind their decision on leaving ECOWAS.

 

In his remarks, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr Omar Alieu Touray, thanked Tinubu for his leadership, affirming that ECOWAS should not be defined by conflicts, elections, and coup d’états, but by developments.

 

Dr. Touray said the exiting of ECOWAS by Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger Republic will affect citizens of the countries and other ECOWAS countries, following the need for visas and the review of all trade and development agreements, including ongoing ECOWAS projects in those countries.

 

Jide Ibitoye.

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