By Lizzy Okoji
Abuja – President Mahammadou Issoufou of Niger Republic, who is the Chairman, ECOWAS Authority of Heads of States and Government has urged member states to take a decisive approach to tackling terrorism in the sub-region.
Issoufou made the call on Saturday in Abuja at the Opening of the 56th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of States and Government.
He said that the West-African sub-region had been hard hit by terrorist attacks, which have intensified and have threatened many national and regional achievements and developments already made by member countries.
Issoufou said that it had, therefore, become very important for member states to respond to the recurring attacks.
“The creation of a common area of peace, security and economic intergration is with without the slightest doubt the key to the future of our region.
“Current regional and global developments in security, constrain me to dwell on the security situation of our region.
“Our region has been hard hit by terrorist attacks every passing day, threatening the ,any 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 to 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,” Issoufou said.
He added that counter-terrorism had a global dimension that should make the entire international community to join in the fight.
The chair of the meeting said that apart from the issue of regional insecurity, ECOWAS should remain focused on economic reform projects and programmes.
He said it had, therefore, become mportant for countries to step up efforts to develop economic infrastructure, boost intra-regional trade, and promote macro-economic convergence.
Issoufou stressed the need for continuous work and commitment toward the implementation of the ECOWAS Single Currency, explaining that doing so would promote the socio-economic well-being of the people.
Also speaking, President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Brou said that three major issues bordering on security, political stability, and economic development would require the attention of the authority of heads of states.
Brou said that the recent terrorist attacks in the region and the thoughts of many civilian and military victims would strengthen the determination of member states to collectively and effectively fight to eradicate the scourge.
“In the past 11 months of 2019, terrorist attacks increased by almost 80 per cent compared to the same period in 2018 and caused more than 1,800 civilian casualties.
“This situation has led to a humanitarian crises with the displacement of nearly 2.8 million people and the closure of hundreds of schools.
“I will like to welcome the decision of the West African Monetary and Economic Union (UEMOA) Summit to disburse and initial amount of 100 million dollars to support this effort,” Brou said.
On the political and economic front, Brou said that the region has made good progress to deepening democracy and showing positive achievements economically.
In his remarks, Mr Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General to West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) said that the root causes of terrorism should be addressed to definitively eradicate the “scourge”.
Chambas pledged the continous support of UNOWAS to enhance coordination with ECOWAS, the G5 Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin Commission towards achieving the SDGs and long term stabilization of the region.
He also applauded ECOWAS for the role it is playing in supporting the people of Guinea-Bissau toward the peaceful conduct of the first round of its Presidential Elections on Nov. 24th.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that discussions at the session are expected to focus on regional security and implementation of the ECOWAS Single Currency (Eco) in 2020.
Other areas of focus include ensuing peace in the forthcoming elections to be held in six member countries in 2020.