Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has asked his fellow West African leaders to join forces in the war against insecurity and terror in the region.
President Buhari made the remarks at the opening session of the 55th ordinary session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government in Abuja, Nigeria.
“Taking into account the transnational nature of the threats confronting us, the need for the adoption of a common strategy at the national and regional level to combat them, has become imperative. By so doing, we will reinforce our actions and resources for a more effective response to protect our citizens and secure our common space,” he said in his opening speech.
“While I acknowledge that several initiatives and measures have been taken in our respective countries recent developments have shown that we must cooperate more effectively to achieve our goals.
“We should send a strong and unified message to the perpetrators of violence that we are resolute in our collective determination to confront and defeat them,” he added.
President Buhari, who is the current Chairman of ECOWAS, also urged the West African leaders to embark on economic and social development programs which would help tackle poverty and unemployment in the region.
“As we strive to create a secure, stable and prosperous environment in West Africa, we must also intensify our efforts to ensure sustainable economic and social development in our sub-region. By doing so, we will be able to tackle poverty and youth unemployment and contribute to our sustained stability,” he said.
The Nigerian leader has been vocal in the campaign to have a united fight against insecurity and terrorism in West Africa.
In a meeting with Chadian President Idris Deby last month, Buhari said it was time for “a new way forward that completely removes the threat of terrorism from Lake Chad sub-region.”
West Africa has been dogged by terrorism for years, mainly perpetrated by the Boko Haram Islamists group. Other ethnic and religious extremist groups also operate in the region.
The resulting war has killed tens of thousands and displaced millions, creating a refugee nightmare in the region.
The region’s governments are however confident they can crush the terrorist and militant cells to realize lasting peace.