Let’s create a regional power for security and economy

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

Tinubu made this call during a speech at the 65th Ordinary Session of the Authority of the Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS in Abuja on Sunday, July 7, 2024.

The president, who is also chairman of the regional bloc, stressed the usefulness of a standby force given the growing security threats.

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

“Member States are also demonstrating their commitment to combating insecurity by individually increasing their defence budgets to acquire the necessary equipment and ensure readiness.”

Tinubu re-elected as ECOWAS president

President Tinubu urged member states to step up their efforts to provide the necessary resources to secure the region, saying: “Let me stress that a peaceful and secure society is essential to achieving our potential. As we operationalize the ECOWAS Standby Force (ESF) in the fight against terrorism, I must stress 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 of our Ministers of Defence and Finance to counter insecurity and stabilise our region.”

Tinubu also urged ECOWAS leaders to harness the capabilities of Nigeria’s National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC), which he said is widely recognised as one of the best on the continent.

Tinubu said his government has decided to make the NCTC a regional centre so that all ECOWAS member states can benefit from the capacity building and other opportunities it offers.

President Tinubu also advised ECOWAS leaders to reorder and reposition their priorities by cutting overheads and setting up steering committees in the country.

In his speech, the Chairman of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Omar Alieu Touray, thanked Tinubu for his leadership and stressed that ECOWAS should not be defined by conflicts, elections and coups, but by development.

Touray said the withdrawal of Burkina Faso, Mali and the Republic of Niger from ECOWAS will have consequences for the citizens of these countries and other ECOWAS countries, due to the need for visas and the review of all trade and development agreements, including ongoing ECOWAS projects in those countries.

The star