By Ismaila Chafe
President Muhammadu Buhari has stressed the need for an enduring security partnership among member countries of the ECOWAS to confront and defeat the evil of cross-border terrorism.
The Nigerian leader made the call at the 56th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority Heads of State and Government in Abuja on Saturday.
He stated that the call had become imperative in view of the fact that terrorism had remained the major threat to the peace and progress of the sub-region.
Buhari observed that the recurring attempts by terrorist groups had reminded the ECOWAS leaders and all peace-loving citizens of the urgency to build an enduring security partnership to confront them.
The Nigerian leader called for a minute silence in honour of victims of terrorist attacks in the Tilabari Region of Niger Republic, where over 70 soldiers and other citizens were killed by the terrorists.
He said: ”It was with great shock and immense pain that I received the news of the tragedy last week in the Tilabari Region of Niger Republic, where over 33 valiant soldiers and other citizens of the country were brutally massacred in yet another cowardly terrorist attack by these enemies of peace and progress.
”As we mourn this enormous loss, our thoughts and sympathies go to the families of these heroes and the entire people of Niger Republic.”
Buhari restated Nigeria’s commitment to regional integration and stressed the need for the regional leaders to always channel their energies towards realising new strategies and initiatives.
He expressed the hope that such initiatives would accelerate the attainment of regional aspirations for sustainable peace, security, stability and inclusive economic growth.
”To achieve these, we must put our people at the heart of our policies,” he said.
In his opening address, the Chair of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government and President of Republic of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, highlighted the dangers posed by terrorist groups to people and economy of the member-states.
Issoufou, who also ordered for a minute silence for those soldiers killed by terrorists in his country, Mali, Burkina Faso and Nigeria, said ECOWAS member-countries must come together to fight terrorism to a standstill for meaningful developments in the sub-region.
He said: ”The creation of a common area of peace, security and economic intergration is without the slightest doubt the key to the future of our region.
“Current regional and global developments in security, constraint me to dwell on the security situation of our region.
“Our region has been hard hit by terrorist attacks every passing day, threatening almost all the national and regional achievements we have made.
“We therefore hope that the prompt implementation of the recommendations of our extraordinary summit on terrorism held on Sept. 14 in Ouagadougou will enable us collectively meet this challenge, which appears to be an attack by faithless criminals, on our dignity and Soverignity.
”The terrorist attacks continually test our commitment to fighting the scourge.
“It is therefore incumbent upon us to respond to all these attacks with firmness and determination,”
In his remarks, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, commended the regional leaders for their continued efforts at promoting socio-economic developments of the sub-region.
He, however, alerted the leaders on the increasing threats posed by the activities of violent groups across member countries of the commission.
Also speaking at the event, the President of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, narrated the achievements of the Bank over the past four years.
He revealed that the Bank was rated as the fourth most transparent institution globally last year.
”The African Development Bank was rated number one – together with the World Bank and the Global Alliance for Vaccination and Immunization (GAVI) – by the Multilateral Organization Performance Assessment Network (MOPAN) that ranks global institutions for their fitness for purpose.
”The African Development Bank has totally rebranded itself. Today, with our High 5s – Light up and power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialize Africa, Integrate Africa and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa – we are helping to deliver impressive results for Africa,” he said.
Adesina, who expressed delight over the partnership between the African Development Bank and the ECOWAS Commission, said in the past four years, the bank had helped to support 18 million people connected to electricity and 141 million people with access to agricultural technologies for food security.