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In Lome, Buhari seeks regional security architecture for west, central Africa by Garba Shehu

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Kingseyi
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In Lome, Buhari seeks regional security architecture for west, central Africa by Garba Shehu

Post by Kingseyi on Wed Aug 01, 2018 7:43 pm

President Muhammadu Buhari in Lome, Togo
strongly pitched for the setting up of a regional
security architecture in the West and Central
African sub-regions, giving clear indication that
there is a convergence of strategic interests
among the countries of the two sub-regions on
security.
President Buhari with President of Togo
Gnassingbe Fraure and President of
Liberia George Weah as he arrives Togo
ahead of ECOWAS-ECCAS Summit on 29th
July 2018
In his address at the three summits that
took place between Sunday and Tuesday
in Lome, these being the ECOWAS
(Economic Community of West African
States) and the ECCAS (Economic
Community Of Central African States);
implementation of Single Currency
throughout West Africa by 2020; and the
53rd Ordinary Session of ECOWAS
Authority of Heads of State and
Government, President Buhari talked
about the need for a united approach to
contain terrorism and radicalisation in the
sub-regions; asserted Nigeria’s leading
role in political, social and economic
matters; and reaffirmed the need for close
collaboration in dealing with problems
affecting their countries.
In a major speech at the ECOWAS-ECCAS
summit, the President made clear Nigeria’s
readiness in playing a major role in broader
regional security framework along with all the
countries in the sub-regions, in the hope of
replicating the successful pentagonal security
coalition in the Lake Chad area which led to the
setting up of a Multinational Joint Task Force
(MNJTF) by Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon and
Benin.
According to him, “Nigeria wishes to encourage
other Member States to intensify inter-regional
collaboration on maritime security, fight against
terrorism and other crimes through effective
border control. Respect for rule of law,
democracy and promotion of human rights are
also vital as they are attributes of good
governance, which would enhance the socio-
economic development of the two regions.
“As you are all aware, the African Union (AU) has
designated this year as the Anti-Corruption Year
under the theme “Winning the Fight against
Corruption: the Sustainable Path to Africa’s
Transformation”. As Champion of the theme for
the year, I call upon you to join hands in this
campaign against corruption, as one of the root
causes of conflict and other societal ills.
“Finally, let me reiterate that 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.”
The discussions focused on steps to further
strengthen the comprehensive strategic
partnership by expanding cooperation across all
sectors, including, but not limited to:
Ø The promotion of peace and stability
throughout the sub-regions;
Ø The setting up of national and sub-regional
early warning response mechanisms to avert
conflicts;
Ø The setting up of Eminent Persons Group to
undertake preventive diplomacy, crisis
management and mediation;
Ø Zero tolerance for corruption, coups, and the
institution of free, fair and credible elections;
Ø Inclusive political participation;
Ø Empowering women and youths; and
Ø The institution of fair mechanisms of sharing
resources.
The leaders of the sub-regions also agreed to
security cooperation against transnational
crimes such as terrorism, illicit trafficking in
arms and drugs and ensuring the security of the
water ways in the Gulf of Guinea.
They also agreed to the formation up of Mutual
Legal Assistance Treaties in pursuit of judicial
assistance to one another and to promote
cooperation by their police.
Arising from their discussions, there will be a
donor conference on security in the Gulf of
Guinea. The Central African Countries have
agreed to support the MNJTF in the Lake Chad
basin area. To tackle the escalation in farmers-
herders conflicts, the leaders have asked their
ministers of agriculture and livestock, security
and foreign affairs to meet every year to
formulate solutions to common problems. The
summit of the leaders will itself take place every
two years to maintain the momentum of
cooperation.
To give effect to all resolutions and decisions, a
ministerial committee was set up, made up of
ministers of foreign affairs, security and the
secretaries-general of both sub-regional groups
to report to the heads of state annually. There
will also be a joint secretariat of ECOWAS and
ECCAS.
The second summit, the one on Single Currency
has outlined eligibility criteria and set targets for
all the countries in West Africa. They call these
convergence criteria that fix the ratios of deficit
to Gross Domestic Product, GDP; annual
inflation rates, limits to Central Banks’ financing,
public debt-GDP ratios, rate of exchange and
currency reserves.
What this meeting did was to charge all
countries to aggressively work towards the
take-off target of 2020 and Nigeria, with 65 per
cent of ECOWAS’ cash reserves, the leading
economy in the sub-region and the continent,
was effectively put in the driver’s seat. Some
likened this role by Nigeria to what Germany is
to the European Union, EU. It is an enormous
responsibility for which our leaders have
expressed the readiness to effectively shoulder.
The third summit, the ECOWAS meeting went
into extra time due to the long list of issues on
the table. These ranged from regional integration
to regional security and stability; customs
union; agriculture and the tragic escalation of
farmers-herders conflicts as well as the
enhancement of social peace.
The meeting of the heads of state and
government also received several reports on
assignments earlier given. There were Reports
on the implementation of ECOWAS biometric ID
cards; African migrants in detention in Italy and
Spain; the on-going restructuring of the ECOWAS
secretariat; budget for the new financial year;
and the political situations in the sub-region
including The Gambia, the legislative elections in
Guinea-Bissau, the elections in Mali, the
maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea, the
situation in Togo as well the setting up of
national early warning centres.
What is left unsaid is that President Buhari’s
engagements dealing with security and
cooperation and the warm reception given him
in Lome, by both ECOWAS and ECCAS have
encouraged enthusiasm and speculative interest
regarding Nigeria’s role in Africa’s security. We
have our challenges quite alright, but that
appear in no way to lower the high expectations
by both domestic and international supporters
about what Nigeria can, and should do.
The point above was underscored by the
extraordinary decision of the ECOWAS leaders to,
for want of a better word impose the leadership
of the organization, against all protestations on
the Nigerian leader.
Nigeria’s delegation to Lome had been briefed of
the aspirations of Cape Verde, Sierra Leone and
Ghana to assume the chairmanship of the
ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and
Government following the completion of Togo’s
mandate.
As with others, Team Nigeria had debated the
pros and cons of all three Candidate-nations and
had, after considering the best possible interests
of the sub-region, made a selection before the
commencement of the summit.
As it turned out, the ECOWAS leaders had a plan
unknown to Nigeria. Against the tradition of
denying the chairmanship to leaders in an
election year in their countries, President Buhari
was asked to lead, and denied a chance to
refuse to serve.
In the history of the ECOWAS, many of the
region’s leaders including some from Nigeria
had fought to serve, with many seeing the
chairmanship as an added feather to the cap, if
not an egotistic conquest of the space in a
megalomaniacal sense. There are past Nigerian
Presidents who had had multiple tenures as
ECOWAS chairman. Unlike others, President
Buhari, in his fourth year as leader, had never
asked to lead.
In classic recast of the Biblical and Qur’anic
proverb, that those who exalt themselves shall
be humbled, while those who humble
themselves shall be exalted, all three candidates
were asked to step down, and the Nigerian
President was called to come forward to lead.
Given the times and the circumstances in the
sub-region, the leaders know of course that they
need President Buhari now, more than they did
at any other time before.
Garba Shehu is the Senior Special Assistant to
the President on Media & Publicity.


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    Current date/time is Fri Aug 17, 2018 6:12 pm