Insecurity: Tinubu Wants ECOWAS Member- states to Fulfil Financial Obligations

* Says Nigeria’ll lead by example to fulfill its financial commitments 

* Offers nation’s counter-terrorism centre for use by entire region

* Canvasses unity, innovation to boost region’s economy

Deji Elumoye in Abuja 

The out-going Chairman of ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, President Bola Tinubu, on Sunday charged ECOWAS member-states on the need to fulfilling their financial obligations to the regional body to effectively tackle security challenges. 

Speaking at the 65th Ordinary Session of ECOWAS, the Nigerian leader stressed that reasonable financial resources are crucial to operationalize the ECOWAS Standby Force (ESF) and combat terrorism, banditry and violent extremism in the region. 

President Tinubu, whose one-year tenure as ECOWAS Chairman ends on Tuesday, July 9, 2024, called on member nations to honour their financial obligations to enable ECOWAS to meet the expectations and recommendations of its ministers of Defence and Finance. 

According to him, fulfilling these commitments will help stabilize the region and counter insecurity.

His words: “By meeting their financial commitments, ECOWAS member states will demonstrate their dedication to regional security and cooperation, enabling the community to better address the security challenges facing West Africa.

“Let me underscore that a peaceful and secure society is essential for achieving our potentials, 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 the insecurity and stabilise our region. Member-states must make extra commitment on providing resources for stabilizing the region. 

“To this end, I urge ECOWAS to leverage on the capability of the Nigeria National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC), which is widely acknowledged as one of the best on the continent.

“The Nigerian government has decided to declare the NCTC as a regional centre to enable all ECOWAS member states benefit from capacity building and other related opportunities it offers. 

“Your excellencies, dear heads of state, I urge those of you with time to visit the centre before your departure and assess first-hand on the facilities and the capabilities of NCTC.”

President Tinubu also advised ECOWAS member-states to unite and develop innovative approaches to unlock the region’s economic potential and promote prosperity.

He acknowledged the economic hurdles hindering progress and stressed the need for partnerships, investment and infrastructure development.

The president stressed the importance of a conducive business environment to stimulate growth and build resilience against external shocks. 

Commenting on the financial challenges facing ECOWAS, he urged member-states to comply with the protocol on community levies to ensure adequate resources for the organization’s programmes, assuring them of Nigeria’s commitment not to default on its own finance commitments.

He said: “I’m also fully aware of other challenges confronting our region, especially the economic hurdles that hinder our progress to elevate our people from poverty to prosperity. It is imperative that we unite as a community and develop innovative approaches to unleash our vast economic potentials. 

“We must continue to identify and develop partnerships that promote investment in key sectors and promote regional trade. 

“Furthermore we must invest in our infrastructure and cultivate a conducive business environment to empower our community to stimulate growth and build resilience against external shock. Together we can pave the way for a prosperous future for all ECOWAS countries.

“I also acknowledge the financial challenges of our organization. Difficult economic conditions and consistent payment of financial commitment to ECOWAS have contributed to the current plight, to ensure ECOWAS has adequate resources for its programmes and activities, I urge all member states to ensure full compliance to the protocol on the community levy. 

“Nigeria, under my leadership, is committed to leading by example by remitting its collected levies to the organisation.”

Earlier in his speech, President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Omar Alieu Touray, said the region has proven that democracy is alive given the successful transition in Senegal, Nigeria, Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone and Liberia, in recent time.

“We look forward to the consolidation of this trend in the region as we prepare for a major election in Ghana later this year,” Touray said.

He however warned that the region was still being confronted with multidimensional challenges that the region faces, which seems to overshadow the modest achievements of the region. 

Touray said: “Our region is still confronted with multiple interlocking threats, including existential works. This include climatic and man-made crisis, leading to terrorism and violent extremism and food insecurity. Livelihoods continued to be threatened by illegal and unsustainable exploitation of our land, forest and marine resources. 

“Governance deficit and marginalisation have strained social contracts, engendering bitter rivalries and unhealthy competition. To complicate the situation, our region has become the arena of geo-strategic and geo-political rivalries and the theatre of misinformation and disinformation that engenders mistrust among and within communities and undermine social cohesion.”

He also revealed that the Commission has commenced preparation towards the 50th anniversary celebration of the regional body. 

The Commission, he said, is proposing a Special Extra-ordinary Summit on the future of the Community.

According to him, “It is however important to note that we will be celebrating our golden jubilee in a context marked by geostrategic and geopolitical rivalries that have not spared our region. 

“We must therefore be proactive in our response to these developments. It is for this reason that the Commission is proposing a Special Extra-ordinary Summit on the future of our Community. 

“The Honourable Ministers have considered this proposal and instructed that a memorandum be submitted for your consideration.”

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