ECOWAS pesident tasks member states on funding anti-terrorism standing force

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Minister of Defense, Abubakar Badaru (seated) flanked to his right by ECOWAS Commision President, Dr Omar Tourey, and Vice President Damtien Tchintchibidja, to his left, at the event on Thursday in Abuja.

By Mark Longyen

The President of ECOWAS Commission, Dr Omar Tourey, has called on member states to mobilise financial resources urgently to fund its action plan against terrorism.

Tourey made the call in Abuja on Thursday at a meeting of ECOWAS Ministers of Defence and Finance convened to activate a sub-regional standing force against terrorism and unconstitutional change of government.

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He noted that ECOWAS is at a pivotal moment in its history, and stressed the need to address insecurity and establish a more secure environment for economic growth and development.

Tourey said ECOWAS had lost so much, financially and economically, to terrorism, and urged members to make additional sacrifices towards rescuing the community from terrorism and its attendant impact on national economies and wellbeing.

“Ministers, we have an urgent task to mobilise the financial resources to fund our regional action plan against terrorism.

“More than ever, we are at a pivotal moment in the history of our community to address insecurity and establish a more secure environment for economic growth and development of our community.

“We have lost so much to terrorism and for the fight against terrorism, financially and economically, both as individual member states and as a community,” Tourey said.

“This is the time to make additional sacrifices by all member states towards rescuing our community from terrorism and its attendant impact on national economies and well-being.

“And it is my conviction that your deliberations would yield fruitful results for a much safer ECOWAS region,” he added.

The commission’s president said the current peace and security situation within the community “is characterised by the recurrence and expansion of terrorism.”

According to him, regardless of the efforts by ECOWAS, terrorist attacks have expanded from their initial Sahel strongholds to neighboring coastal countries, adding that some members have lost parts of their territories to terrorists.

These attacks, he said, had led to a huge death toll, and humanitarian crises, with millions of internally displaced persons and refugees.

“According to the 2024 Global Terrorism Index, the epicenter of terrorism has shifted from the Middle East or North Africa into the sub-Saharan African region, concentrating largely in the Sahel region.

“This is the most affected region within sub-Saharan Africa, accounting for almost half of all deaths from terrorism and 26 per cent of attacks in 2023.

“Some of our member states have become countries with the highest impact from terrorism for the first time, with fatalities increasing by 68 per cent.

“A quarter of all deaths from terrorist attacks occurring globally were in Burkina Faso, while Mali is ranked the number three most impacted country,” Tourey said.

Nigeria’s Defence Minister Abubakar Badaru (seated), flanked by ECOWAS President Omar Tourey and Vice President Damtien Tchintchibidja at a meeting of ECOWAS ministers of defence and finance.

Also speaking, Nigeria’s Minister of Defence, Abubakar Badaru, said that the event was crucial for adopting the modalities for financing and equipping the deployment of the ECOWAS counterterrorism force.

Participants at the meeting of ECOWAS Ministers of Defence and Finance.

He stated that West Africa is threatened by insecurity and grave humanitarian challenges, as terrorism and violent extremism continue to threaten its collective existence.

Badaru added that collective commitment is vital in crafting a sustainable financing model to address immediate security threats and in laying the foundation for long-term stability or resilience in the region.

The minister said that the financial implication of the ECOWAS standing force proposal was huge, as it is estimated to cost about 2.6 billion naira annually to set up a Brigade of 5,000 men.

“Therefore, our gathering here today is driven by the urgent need to consider the financing options in the memorandum to be presented by the ECOWAS Commission for deploying the proposed regional force.

“Those figures underscore the gravity of the task before us and the necessity for a robust and sustainable resource mobilization strategy.

“It is, therefore, imperative that we review the options critically considering the current challenges confronting our sub-region and the financial constraints facing various member states,” Badaru said. (NAN)

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