President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has urged the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to accept and implement ECOWAS’s proposals on how to deal with terrorism in the region.
According to him, the proposals, when properly implemented, could substantially address the problem of terrorism in the region.
“The priority areas touch on every aspect of the terrorism canker, from the promotion of inter-community dialogue, intelligence gathering and sharing, strengthening border security controls, training and equipping state actors, dealing with terrorism financing, coordination of counter-terrorism efforts, strengthening the control of arms and dual use goods to the mobilisation of resources to fund counter-terrorism within the region,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo was addressing an Extraordinary Session of ECOWAS in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, last Saturday.
“Our situation in West Africa has become grave with the presence of operatives and surrogates of al-Qaeda functioning in the Sahel and Boko Haram militants operating around the Lake Chad Basin,” the President said.
He bemoaned the slow pace at which ECOWAS member states were adopting and executing measures that had been structured to address the menace of terrorism.
“It is time we heeded the clarion call of ending these threats. We need to cultivate the culture of sharing information among ourselves and harmonise efforts to deal with them, as they affect not just our region but also the entire African continent,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo said the synergy being employed by members of G5 du Sahel and the ongoing multinational operations in the Lake Chad Basin, which had driven out some of the terrorist elements from the area, must be applauded.
He, however, observed that the terrorists were now moving south in search of a safe haven in countries such as Côte d’Ivoire, Togo, Benin and Ghana.
He said the Accra Initiative, involving regular meetings of security and intelligence heads from Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Togo and Benin, was currently underway to review and formulate joint strategies towards combating shared threats on terrorism and violent extremism.
Mali and Niger had also recently joined the deliberations under the Accra Initiative, he said.
“We have to ensure the proper co-ordination of measures, such as those of the G5 du Sahel, the Lake Chad Basin Joint Taskforce and the Accra Initiative, to help deal effectively with terrorism and insecurity in the region. This will build synergies, avoid the duplication of efforts and eliminate gaps that may be exploited by terrorist elements,” President Akufo-Addo said.
Security and intelligence
While focusing on the proposal by the ECOWAS Commission, the President urged his colleague Heads of State not to overlook the critical economic, political and social policies that had to be engineered to assist in the fight against terrorism.
“Promoting inter-communal dialogue, enhancing religious tolerance, de-emphasising ethnic divisions and chieftaincy conflicts, guaranteeing access to education, stimulating economic development in deprived communities — these are necessary adjuncts to the arsenal of security and intelligence needed to win the fight,” he added.
He said although Ghana supported, in principle, proposals made by President Alassane Ouattara of Cote d’Ivoire on the funding of West Africa’s counter-terrorism efforts, Ghana needed further consultations to arrive at a concrete figure.
The President also urged the authority not to ignore offers of assistance and solidarity, such as recently made at the G7 meeting of the world’s most advanced economies in Biarritz, France, on August 25, 2019, to strengthen peace and security co-operation and also increase support to the Sahel states in the fight against terrorism.
“We must certainly respond to it and discuss with them urgently the exact details of the co-operation they are offering. We must welcome these gestures of solidarity.
“Ghana’s commitment to the fight against terrorism is absolute and we are willing and determined to work with fellow ECOWAS member states in combating it effectively,” the President added