- Task Nigeria on current security situation
By Alex Enumah in Nigeria
The European Union (EU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have agreed in principle to pursue and sustain a common political engagement that would produce free, fair, credible and peaceful elections in Nigeria and other West African countries.
The two regional blocks however identified the current security situation in Nigeria as a threat to the success of the 2019 general elections if not nipped in the bud.
This was the fall out of discussions and decisions reached at a two-day ECOWAS-EU Political Dialogue, which ended Friday in Abuja.
According to a draft communiqué issued at the end of the meeting, participants noted the challenging general security environment ahead of the 16th February 2019 Presidential Election in Nigeria and called for increased effort in dealing with the threats.
While they commended the progress made in the fight against Boko Haram, they expressed worry over the recent increase in attacks by terrorist groups.
“In particular, they highlighted the importance of addressing among others, the root causes of conflicts and the basic needs of the population related to the strengthening of resilience, humanitarian assistance and humanitarian access to the affected areas”, the communiqué said.
Apart from Boko Haram activities particularly in the north east, other security challenges the group identified as threat to the elections include the Farmers-herders conflict in the Middle Belt region among others.
Addressing journalists on the outcome of the meeting, the Chair of the Council of the European Union Representative, Hubert Fuchs, said the meeting considered the overall security situation in West Africa with a special focus on the Sahel and the Gulf of Guinea and assessed the ECOWAS peace missions and prospects for ECOWAS-ECCAS Cooperation.
Speaking on the issue of irregular migration, the envoy said that there was need for the two regions to find a common and constructive solution to the menace.
“The EU is not fortress, but it cannot be borderless either. So on irregular migration in particular, I wish to stress that this matter is of such high political importance in Europe.
“And that we look to our partners in West Africa to find common and constructive and mutually beneficial ways forward. We aim to do this through solidarity, partnership and shared responsibility,” he said.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Mustapha Suliman, earlier said the meeting discussed various areas of cooperation between the EU and the ECOWAS.
“We have discussed elections and political situation in some of ECOWAS countries; we have also isolated some challenges and proffer some solutions that both EU and ECOWAS would pursue towards the resolution of political crisis in some of these countries”, he said.