President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana and Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government has called for concerted action by member countries to effectively tackle insecurity in the region.
Akufo-Addo made the appeal on Saturday during the 58th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, which was held virtually.
He said that the sub-region continued to face critical security challenges with deadly terrorist attacks in Mali, northeastern Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Niger, as he condemned the attacks in the region and community.
“We sympathise and extend our deep condolences to affected countries and the families of the victims.
“These developments must reinforce our conviction that we must pursue, even more vigorously, the actions we have begun, with the rapid implementation of the decisions of our Extraordinary Summit on Terrorism, held on 14th September 2019.
“This concerted effort, which must be a major priority objective of the community, is the best way for us to address collectively, the security challenge.
“And give ourselves the means to ensure the security of the populations of our community. Our dignity and our sovereignty are at stake,” Akufo-Addo said.
Akufo-Addo commended member countries who have kept to their commitments of paying their financial contribution to the US$1 billion ECOWAS Regional Security Fund (ERSF), created in support of the 2020-2024 Anti-Terrorism Action Plan.
The chairman of the authority said that raising the money had to be a high priority for ECOWAS because it enabled member states to act independently in the crisis.
“Your Excellencies will recall that the 2019 Summit created the Fund to cover a five (5) year period, 2020-2024.
“The UEMOA countries committed to contribute five hundred million United States dollars (US$500 million), whilst the Federal Republic of Nigeria also pledged three hundred and fifty million dollars (US$350 million);
“Leaving a balance of one hundred and fifty million dollars (US$150 million) for the six (6) remaining countries and other sources.
“Out of the five hundred million United States dollars ($500 million) pledged by the UEMOA countries, one hundred million ($100 million) has been disbursed directly to Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger to assist them in their anti-terrorism activities.
“Out of the Nigerian pledge of three hundred and fifty million ($350 million), one hundred million United States dollars ($100 million) was pledged for 2020.
“Out of which eighty million dollars ($80 million) was to be used directly by them in their fight against terrorism on their northern border, and twenty million dollars ($20 million) was to go to the Fund.
“The Commission is awaiting confirmation transfer instructions for this amount, which will then leave a balance of two hundred and fifty million dollars to be contributed to the Fund by Nigeria.
“Ghana, on its part, has decided to pledge $50 million over the five year period of which $10 million is destined for the fund, and $40 million for the domestic empowerment of its border security against potential terrorist incursions.
“Half of the ten million dollars ($10 million), i.e., five million dollars ($5 million), has been paid by Ghana into the ESRF account, of which confirmation transfer instructions for this payment has been received by the commission.
“The remaining one hundred million dollars ($100 million), which is to be paid by the other five (5) countries, will complete the establishment of the entire fund. We need to do this as quickly as possible,” Akufo-Addo said.
He appreciated foreign Friends of ECOWAS for their support in ensuring that the ECOWAS Commission and the West African Health Organisation (WAHO) were able to broaden their scope of support to member states as a complement to their efforts.
Akufo-Addo said this was time for ECOWAS to work earnestly towards the vaccination of its populations and a time to send a strong signal to ECOWAS citizens after the summit of the determination and commitments to protect them.
In his remarks, Mr Jean-Claude Brou, President, ECOWAS Commission, reiterated that the sub-region continued to face the challenges posed by the terrorist threat in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Northern Nigeria.
Brou said the recurrent attacks of insurgents in some parts of the sub-region has led to grave loss of lives, displacement, destruction of property and a huge humanitarian crises.
“In this regard, it has become increasingly urgent to implement the Action Plan to combat terrorism approved in December 2019 by the Authority,” Brou said.