President Muhammadu Buhari has pledged the continuous support of the country for the fight against terrorism and other crimes, especially in the West and Central sub-regions of Africa.
The President made the promise on Monday in Lome, the Togolese capital during a joint summit of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
He was making a contribution to the consideration and adoption of the draft declaration by ECCAS and ECOWAS on peace, security, stability and the fight against terrorism and violent extremism.
“Nigeria will continue to support any effort directed towards peace-building, security and stability, as well as the fight against terrorism and violent extremism in our two sub-regions and the world at large, as an active member of the Global Counter Terrorism Forum (GCTF),” he said.
To ensure maritime security and effective border control, President Buhari, appealed for inter-regional collaboration.
“Respect for rule of law, democracy and promotion of human rights are vital as they are attributes of good governance, which would enhance the socio-economic development of the two regions,” he said.
“It is also noteworthy to state that the subsisting collaboration among Nigeria, Chad, Cameroun, Niger and Benin in the fight against transnational crimes and proliferation of small arms and light weapons is exemplary,” he added.
Refilling Lake Chad
The President once again drew attention to the need to save Lake Chad, explaining that Nigeria’s collaboration with the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC), which has a mandate to protect the environment, was existential because of the imperative to preserve the lake.
He lamented that the shrinking of the lake, by 90 per cent, “has directly led to the economic hardship in the region, which has, in turn, created the enabling environment for the radicalisation of the youth.”
President Buhari, therefore, called for greater focus on the refilling of the Lake Chad “as a long-term solution to one of the root causes of this existential threat.”
He emphasised that the summit between ECOWAS and ECCAS was long overdue given the shared history and cultural ties of the two sub-regions and the common challenges they face.
“Nigeria shares boundaries with two important ECCAS Members; Cameroun and Chad, with whom we share the same security threats, especially terrorism, illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons, human and drug trafficking, smuggling among others,” President Buhari told the African leaders.
“Therefore, collaboration between our two sub-regions has become inevitable at this time to enable us effectively confront the existing challenges,” he added.
According to the President, such proximity informed his engagement with the neighbouring countries as soon as he came to power in 2015, leading to the formation of “a common front to combating Boko Haram insurgency” through the Multi-national Joint Task Force (MNJTF) by the countries of the LCBC – Nigeria, Cameroun, Chad, Niger, and the Benin Republic.
Root Causes Of Conflict
He also reminded other leaders about the African Union (AU)’s designation of 2018 as the Anti-Corruption Year with the theme, “Winning the Fight against Corruption: the Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation”.
President Buhari consequently urged them to work together for the campaign against corruption, as it is “one of the root causes of conflict and other societal ills”.
He commended the efforts of the Chairpersons of ECCAS and ECOWAS for bringing together leaders of the two groupings to deliberate on important issues that required urgent attention.
Earlier, the ECOWAS Chairman and President of Togo, Faure Gnassingbe; the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, Mohamed Ibn Chambas; the Chairman of the African Union Commission, Mousa Faki Mahamat; and the ECCAS Chairman and President of Gabon, Ali Bongo Ondimba, underscored the imperative for collaboration to overcome regional security challenges.
In the final communiqué, the 26-member joint organisation strongly condemned all kinds of illicit activities and trafficking by terrorist and mercenary groups operating in the Sahel and some ECOWAS and ECCAS member states.
They were also concerned about the upsurge in violent conflicts among herders and farmers as a result of the adverse effects of climate change.
The Heads of State and Government consequently instructed the ministers responsible for agriculture, livestock, and security of both regions to hold regular consultations, with the participation of herder and farmer organisations to identify measures for the preservation and peaceful management of the conflicts.