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ECOWAS 65th session: Tinubu calls for commitment, funding towards regional standby force

ECOWAS

.Says ECOWAS needs security, stability to achieve potential

.Re-elected ECOWAS chairman for the second time

President Bola Tinubu has called on Heads of State and Government of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to work towards the establishment and sustenance of a regional standby force for the security and economic advancement of the community.

Speaking during the opening of the 65th Ordinary Session of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government on Sunday, in Abuja, President Tinubu, who was re-elected as chairman of the regional bloc, at the session, highlighted the expediency of a standby force in the face of growing security threats.

“The Regional Action Plan against Terrorism has enhanced cooperation on training, intelligence sharing, and humanitarian interventions. In addition to this, the Ministers of Finance and Defence met recently in Abuja to raise funds for activating the ECOWAS Standby Force to boost counter-terrorism efforts.

“Member countries are also displaying their commitment to combating insecurity by individually increasing their defence budgets in order to acquire necessary equipment and ensure preparedness,’’ the President said.

President Tinubu urged member states to commit more to providing the needed resources for securing the region.

“Let me underscore that a peaceful and secure society is essential for achieving our potential. As we move to operationalize the ECOWAS Standby Force (ESF) in combating terrorism, I must emphasize that the success of this plan requires not only strong political will but also substantial financial resources.

“We must, therefore, ensure that we meet the expectations and recommendations set forth by our Ministers of Defence and Finance, in order to counter insecurity and stabilize our region,’’ the President added.

President Tinubu advised ECOWAS leaders to leverage the capabilities of Nigeria’s National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC), which has been widely acknowledged as one of the best on the continent.

The President said his government has decided to make the NCTC a regional centre to enable all ECOWAS member states to benefit from capacity building and other related opportunities it offers.

President Tinubu also advised the management of ECOWAS to re-align and reposition its priorities by reducing overheads and setting up in-country steering committees.

“Difficult economic conditions and inconsistent payment of financial commitments to ECOWAS have contributed to the current plight. To ensure ECOWAS has adequate resources for its programmes and activities, I urge all member states to ensure full compliance with the Protocol on the Community Levy.

“Nigeria, under my leadership, is committed to leading by example in remitting its collected levies to the organization. Nevertheless, the ECOWAS management must also reduce its overhead expenditures and focus on programmes and activities that directly impact the lives of our citizens.

“I am aware of the progress report on the implementation of the ECOWAS Institutional Reforms. I therefore call on the President of the ECOWAS Commission to resume and expedite the conclusion of the second phase of the Institutional Reforms, aimed at reducing the organisation’s operational costs,’’ the President said.

President Tinubu welcomed a new member of the Authority, Senegalese President, Bassirou Diomaye Faye.

“Allow me to further extend warm congratulations to the Government and people of the Republic of Senegal for their steadfastness in the consolidation of democratic governance.

“Their recently concluded presidential election has been widely adjudged as free, fair, transparent, and credible. This achievement is a testament to our region’s commitment to the principles of democracy, good governance, and rule of law,’’ the President stated.

President Tinubu said the 65th session will review the concerns in the region, adding: “We are aware of the enormous challenges, including terrorist activities and violent extremism threatening to spread from the Sahel region towards the coastal states. The political landscape still remains fragile in some member states, especially those that witnessed unconstitutional changes of government.”

While calling for unity within the community, the President emphasized that to elevate the people from poverty to prosperity, it is imperative for ECOWAS to develop innovative approaches to unleash the region’s vast economic potential.

“We must continue to identify and develop partnerships that promote investment in key sectors and promote regional trade. Furthermore, we must invest in our infrastructure and cultivate a conducive business environment to empower our communities to stimulate growth and build resilience against external shocks.

“Together, we can pave the way for a prosperous future for all of West Africa,’’ the President stated.

President Tinubu also called for support in re-electing Ambassador Bankole Adeoye as AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace, and Security in February 2025.

In his remarks, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Omar Alieu Touray thanked President Tinubu for his purposeful leadership, affirming that ECOWAS should not be defined by conflicts, elections, and coup d’états, but by development.

Touray said the exiting of ECOWAS by Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger will affect citizens of the countries, and other ECOWAS countries, following the need for visas, and the review of all trade and development agreements, including ongoing ECOWAS projects in those countries.

Meanwhile, President Bola Tinubu has been re-elected as the Chairman of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government.

The President’s mandate was extended at the 65th Ordinary Session of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government on Sunday in Abuja, following the decision of the leaders to ensure continuity and consistency in meeting targets on security, reconciliation, and development.

President Tinubu was first elected to the position in Guinea-Bissau on July 9, 2023.

In his acceptance speech, the President said he would focus on consolidating the values of democracy and upholding the interest of the regional body, which will clock 50 years in 2025.

The Chairman of ECOWAS appointed the President of Senegal, His Excellency, Mr. Bassirou Diomaye Faye, and the President of Togo, His Excellency, Mr. Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé, as Special Envoys to Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger Republic.

“I have appointed the President of Senegal, Bassirou Diomaye Faye, to please become our Special Envoy to Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger Republic, along with the President of Togo, Faure Gnassingbé, to do around the clock work with our brothers in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger Republic, and to coordinate with me and the ECOWAS Commission, where necessary.

“I have accepted to continue the service to the great members and the great minds that are committed to democratic values and our journey in the region.

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“I will continue to serve our interest and build on democratic values and the structure that we inherited. Thank you very much,’’ the President said.

President Tinubu had earlier called on Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS to work towards the establishment and sustenance of a regional standby force for the security and economic advancement of the community.

The President emphasised the expediency of a standby force in the face of growing security threats in the region.

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Ihesiulo Grace

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