By John Okeke and Ralph Chris Izokpu
The President of the Republic of Ghana and Chair, Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government to the ECOWAS Commission, Nana Akufo-Addo said West Africa has become the hotbed of terrorists and extremists activities.
He stated this during his working visit to the ECOWAS commission headquarters on Monday in Abuja.
He said, “As I stated in my acceptance speech, although considerable progress has been made since the establishment of ECOWAS, some forty flve years ago, much more remains to be done to consolidate on the socio-economic and political gains made over the years. The challenges in the areas of democracy, health, security, economy, trade and currency, must be addressed in a spirit of genuine cooperation and solidarity, if we are to overcome them, which I am confident we can.
I believe that, collectively, we can all make ECOWAS the most viable regional bloc in Africa, and realise the vision of transforming ECOWAS from “a body of states to a community of peoples.”
“At the 57th Summit in Niamey, I listened carefully to the words of solidarity from the Members of the Authority, who, each, reiterated their commitment to the cause of integration and development. Indeed, the programmes and projects presented by the President of the ECOWAS Commission were very much in accord with the five-point agenda for my chairmanship of the Community, which I outlined. They are: Firstly, the fight against terrorism. West Africa, in recent years, has become a hotbed of terrorist and extremist activities, as a result of greater activism of groups operating in the North East of Nigeria, the Lake Chad Basin, Mali and the Greater Sahel. Endemic poverty and widespread disillusionment amongst youth in Africa are not only providing fertile breeding grounds for those who want to cross the Sahara Desert on foot, and the Mediterranean Sea in rickety boats, in the hope of Funding a better future in Europe, but also for a new generation of terrorists and violent extremists,” he said.
He continued,”This is most worrying, because surrogates of al-Qaeda in the Sahel, and Boko Haram militants, operating around the Lake Chad basin, the two most active terrorist groups in West Africa, are exploiting the unacceptable levels of poverty in these areas, in the recruitment and indoctrination of youth. Furthermore, the growing number of breakaway terror groups, notably the spread of ethno-linguistic groups, and the porous nature of our borders, in addition to our natural vulnerabilities, call for a strong regional approach to contain the growing threats of terrorist and extremist activities.”
You will recall that, on 12th September 2019, ECOWAS organized, in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, an Extraordinary Summit on Eradication of Terrorism in ECOWAS.
Following the Summit, a 2020 to 2024 Plan of Action was adopted by the 56th Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of states and Government In December 2019 In Abuja. To this end, one billion dollars (US$1 billion) was programmed for the financmg of activities in the action plan. We have to intensify our effort to ensure that the plan of action is well financed, with a view to ridding our Community of terrorism.