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Our efforts on peace, security in West Africa yielding results – Buhari

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President Muhammadu Buhari, on Saturday, said his efforts at combating terrorism and violent extremism in West Africa have started yielding results following the dousing of tension and restoration of peace in Guinea Bissau, Togo and Mali.

President Buhari, who is also the Chair of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS, said he focused on peace and security because terrorism has become a major threat to the economic development and stability in the sub-region.

He was speaking at the 54th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government in Abuja.

Buhari commended ECOWAS leaders for their efforts at pursing development and peace but said terrorism and insurgency had continued to make nonsense of whatever successes the region has recorded.

He therefore called on other ECOWAS leaders to show similar concern to the issue of terrorism and violent extremism by joining in the fight to eliminate the menace.

He said, “It is a matter of concern that terrorism and violent extremism have continued to threaten the peace and security in our sub-region. This threat calls for collective action on our part, if we are to effectively and definitely eliminate it.

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“As we work on new strategies to combat and eradicate this menace, we require the support of our partners to ensure the achievement of our objectives.”

He added, “This would require that all hands are on deck and that all Member States ensure the payment of the Statutory Community Levy as at when due.

“By so doing, we will empower and enable the commission to implement the Integration Agenda, as we march towards the year 2020, and actualize our vision of building an ECOWAS of Peoples and not of States.”

Also speaking, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel, Mohammed Ibn Chambas, commended the region for efforts at actualizing the dreams of the leaders.

Chambas identified the successful conduct of elections as a contributing factor to the progress made by the region in recent times.

He however, stressed that more efforts needed to be made to address issues related to conduct of elections in order to prevent and mitigate electoral violence, human rights abuses and promote respect for the rule of law.

He said, “Upcoming elections in the sub-region will present opportunities for further consolidating democracy. UNOWAS is coordinating efforts with ECOWAS Commission to ensure appropriate support to these countries in their efforts to organize free, credible and peaceful elections.”

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He however charged the leaders to continue to work together on the implementation of the regional strategy for stabilization, recovery, development and resilience of the Boko Haram-affected areas of the Lake Chad Basin, which according to him, constitute a comprehensive and sustainable response to the challenges facing the region.

He also stated that more concerted efforts are also needed to improve on the situation of women, girl and youth to ensure they are adequately represented in decision making positions across the region, thereby harnessing the region’s full human resources potential.


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