…Urges ECOWAS Parliament To Help Curb Scourge Terrorism, Insurgency, Banditry, Piracy
The Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Heads of State and Government and President of Ghana, Nana Akuffo-Addo, has called on West African leaders to consolidate efforts to root out terrorism from the region.
Akuffo-Addo made the call during the opening ceremony of the 2021 First Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament in Abuja.
Akuffo-Addo said despite the best efforts in dealing with the menace by the ECOWAS leaders, there were persistent attempts to distabilise several countries of the ECOWAS community from attacks on state symbols, to civilian populations and military bases as has been the case recently in Niger, Mali, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Nigeria.
Akuffo-Addo further said the peace and security, as well as safeguarding the democratic institutions of member states, were currently a major challenge for the region.
“We cannot sufficiently reiterate the importance of peace and stability to the growth and development of our region. It is important that we consolidate our efforts in rooting out terrorism and threats of terrorism in West Africa,” Akuffo-Addo said.
Akuffo-Addo further said apart from the people of the region living in constant fear of uncertainty, the region cannot expect to attract the requisite levels of investment should the state of insecurity persists.
He added that the ECOWAS region must take more rigorous actions in coordinating measures to ensure terrorism was brought to an end in the region.
Akuffo-Addo also said the region must in the same vein, pay equal attention to bringing an end to insecurity in the maritime space in the Gulf of Guinea which is today, the greatest hotbed of piracy in the entire world.
“This is not a reputation we deserve. And we must work together urgently to change the narrative,” Akuffo-Addo added.
Akuffo-Addo also said it was well acknowledged that Africa is a blessed continent, adding that the West African region in particular is one of the major reservoirs of the richest natural resources in the world.
He however said the preconditions for the development of the resources of the continent were peace and security and those of democracy and good governance.
Akuffo-Addo added that it was of paramount importance that the parliamentarians endeavour to undertake programmes and activities that will help curb the scourge of terrorism, insurgency, banditry and piracy.
“The community expects you to use your relations to help attain the desire results,” the Ghanaian President further said.
In his remarks, the President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, said while the ECOWAS Protocol on Free Movement of Persons and Goods remained a prized policy, for instance; insecurity, instability, and conflicts were matters requiring continuous attention.
Lawan added that the freedom to move between member nations was helpful to sub-regional economic growth, besides increasing the attendant benefits like job creation, reduction in underemployment, stimulation of economic multipliers, and better wellbeing.
He further said this can hardly happen in an atmosphere of strife, cross-border crimes like banditry, insurgency, drug trafficking, and ceaseless ethno-religious struggles, amidst others.
“As parliamentarians, we must examine the dimensions associated with these occurrences towards appropriate interventions. An accord of purpose between member nations creates the needed synergy for the actualization of uniform visions.
“The fostering of this uniformity partly rests with us and I am confident we can accomplish this, despite the limitations of institutional empowerment. It is possible through consistent advocacy, and the broadening of understanding on our objectives.
“Our specific development policies, the focus on cybersecurity and cyber-crime, our corporate social responsibility projects, the concern for the safety of critical infrastructures and the overarching need to ensure the economic prosperity of the region, by protecting the environment should remain priorities.
“Excelling in these regards takes us closer to achieving the plan of not just bonding our states, but also our peoples, as envisioned by our founding fathers. It is a step towards enhancing good governance, safety and security of citizens consistent with our legislative mandates.
“For emphasis, this First Ordinary Session for the year 2021 is also projected to help us chart ways forward in the months ahead, particularly in engendering cohesion in eliminating terrorism, all forms of extremism, and the better implementation of trade agreements and protocols.
“Added to these are the need to focus on irregular migration, often leading to needless sorrows, pains, and deaths; the fight against diseases, drought, and the requirement to entrench transparency and accountability in our governance systems.
“I am additionally assured that we are well prepared to make our inputs from our individual appreciation of the issues, towards finding lasting solutions to the challenges.
“It is a responsibility that we bear, and we have to do our best, God’s willing. Once more, I welcome you all to this session, and I wish us all a successful deliberation. God bless you all. God bless the West African Sub-region. God bless the ECOWAS Parliament,” Lawan said.
On his part, the Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Sidie Mohamed Tunis, acknowledged that the task at hand was not going to be easy.
“It is daunting and can be exhausting, but we derive joy and passion knowing that it is a noble call to duty. Our people earnestly yearn for deliverables emanating from our service to them. To this end, we will continue to strive to improve every facet of their lives, while also ensuring that our Community remains integrated and prosperous,” Tunis said.
Tunis further said the parliament has been following closely, unfolding developments in Mali, recalling the parliamentary fact-finding mission he led to Mali earlier in the year where he held discussions with all stakeholders in the transition process.
He added that despite assurance by all parties of their commitment towards a transition to democratic rule, unfortunately, the parliament observed a few days ago, a dramatic shift in the political situation which led to the arrest of the Transitional President, Bah N’Daw and the Prime Minister, Mr. Moctar Ouane.
“I wish to emphasize that the ECOWAS Parliament condemns, in the strongest terms, the military take over in Mali and all acts in the region that threatens or stalls the process of entrenching Democracy across our States. We have made many efforts in securing a peaceful and stable ECOWAS and it is about time we take firm and decisive actions against forces that tend to reverse this trend. The ECOWAS Parliament stands ready to support all efforts aimed at putting Mali on the right trajectory of peace and democracy,” Tunis also said.
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