MEMBERS of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have pledged a $1billion war chest against terrorism and other security challenges in the sub-region and the Sahel.
President Muhammadu Buhari made this known during a high level meeting of the African Union Peace and Security Council on the State of Peace and Security in Africa at the 33rd African Union(AU) summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia at the weekend.
Buhari, according to a statement on Sunday by Garba Shehu , commended the renewed vigour by ECOWAS members to mobilise their own resources to combat terrorism.
”In Burkina Faso, we (ECOWAS) pledged to mobilize $1 billion to address the challenges of insecurity in our region and the Sahel, ” the President said.
He also recalled the roles of Nigeria and other members of ECOWAS played in the conduct of peaceful elections and restoration of democracy in two countries in the sub-region.
Buhari said: “In Guinea Bissau, ECOWAS successfully midwifed the general elections.
Nigeria, along with ECOWAS member states, led in the restoration of democracy and peace in The Gambia.”
The President also called for new strategies by the AU to effectively prevent, manage and resolve conflicts in the face of new circumstances and emerging challenges.
According to him, Nigeria has fulfilled its financial obligations to the AU Peace Fund up to 2019.He pledged Nigeria’s readiness to continue investing on peace and security on the continent.
Buhari, who said that Nigeria was proud to continue to serve as a strong contributor to the peace roles played by the regional bloc.
On security challenges in Africa, the President said it was regrettable that terrorism, violent extremism and other forms of vicious conflicts had continued to cause mayhem and untold crisis in the continent.
He said: “Nigeria condemns, in the strongest terms, the perpetrators of terrorism in Libya, the Sahel, Lake Chad Basin, and parts of the Horn of Africa.
”We reiterate that efforts must continue to be polled to mitigate this dreadful violence and secure the future of our continent.”
Buhari also stressed the need for new strategies to resolve conflicts on the continent, saying : ”The AU must strengthen its own capacity for mediation and develop an effective intervention roadmap.”
He added that more emphasis should be placed on promoting national dialogue, reconciliation and social cohesion in order to rally all actors toward sustainable peace.
On the Peace Fund, the President reminded the meeting that drawing from the Kigali and Johannesburg Assembly decisions, the fund had been structured for the internal peace support arrangements within the continent and not as resources to subsidize the mandate of the United Nations (UN) Security Council.
”In this regard, my delegation will always fervently contest attempts to make Africa subsidize the primary responsibility of the UN as clearly provided in it Charter,” he said.
Buhari also welcomed the decision of the AU Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) to adopt the regional stabilisation strategy for the Lake Chad Basin and the renewal of mandates of the Multi National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) and the G5 Sahel Joint Force.
He told the meeting that Nigeria was encouraged by the resolution of the continent’s standing decision-making body for conflict prevention, management and resolution on the Lake Chad Basin.
The President said: ”We are hopeful that the Inter Water Basin Transfer Initiative for the recharging of the Lake Chad will address some of the drivers of terrorism, particularly the impact of climate change and inter-communal clashes over access to natural resources.
”We equally call on the assembly to direct the full implementation of these AU-inspired initiatives.”
Buhari, who also met on the sidelines of the summit with Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, identified education as one of the strongest areas of relationships between Nigeria and Canada.
He described Nigeria-Canada relations as very cordial, expressing his desire to further strengthen the ties.
The President said: ‘‘We have a lot of students in Canada. We are aware of our vital roles to keep the country together. We are eager to expand trade because you are one of the ‘biggest customers’, of Nigeria’s crude oil.
‘‘But the most important and enduring relations with Canada is education.’’
Trudeau described Buhari as ‘‘a leader in Africa,’’ adding that it was a pleasure to engage on regional and international issues.
‘‘Your leadership and reflection on the current situation, challenging Africa but also the potentials and opportunities are something that I am very much looking up to,” he said.
At a breakfast meeting of the Commission on Science and Technology for Sustainable Development in the South (COMSATS), Buhari said Nigeria was poised to devote more resources to the development of the study of science and technology.
He affirmed that Nigeria recognizes the centrality of science and technology in the development process and will ensure adequate resource allocation for research and development.
Buhari said: ‘‘We are concentrating on encouraging our students, at the primary and post primary levels to love and study more of science-related subjects rather than arts, political science and history.’’
The president later joined President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed and other African leaders yesterday to inaugurate the headquarters of the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services (CISSA) in Addis Ababa with a pledge to intensify security cooperation.
The Chairperson of CISSA and Director-General of National Intelligence Agency (NIA) of Nigeria, Ambassador Ahmed Rufai Abubakar, described the building as a product of vision, generosity, partnership and African solidarity.
He recalled that ”in the 16 years of its existence, CISSA has evolved into a truly continental organisation with 52 members, making significant contributions to the implementation of its mandate.
”All this was possible because of the support, assistance and contributions of member countries, ranging from timely and consistent payment of dues, secondment of staff, technical assistance and special grants.
“Here, Nigeria, Algeria, Sudan and South Africa stand out,”he said.
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