BY Victoria Ojeme
Ghanaian President and newly elected Chairman of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Nana Akufo-Addo, has said on Monday that terrorist groups are exploiting the high rate of poverty in West Africa to perpetrate their activities.
Akufo- Addo made this known during a working visit to the ECOWAS Commission in Abuja , Akufo-Addo, who was elected as the ECOWAS Authority chairperson at the 57th Summit of the regional body in Niamey on September 7, therefore, called for a strong regional approach to contain the growing threats of terrorist and extremist activities.
The ECOWAS chair, who expressed serious concerns over the havoc of the terrorists in the Lake Chad basin and the Sahel, said the insurgents were exploiting the unacceptable levels of poverty in West Africa in the recruitment and indoctrination of the youths in the region.
He noted the danger of the growing numbers of breakaway terror groups, the spread of ethnolinguistic groups even as he lamented the porous nature of the borders and the vulnerabilities of the ECOWAS member states.
Akufo-Addo recalled that the ECOWAS had on September 12, 2019, in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, convened an extraordinary summit on the eradication of terrorism which budgeted $1billion for the financing of activities in the action plan.
He said, “Following the summit, a 2020 to 2024 Plan of Action was adopted by the 56th ordinary session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government in December 2019.
“To this end, $1bn was programmed for the financing of activities in the Action Plan. We have to intensify our efforts to ensure that the plan of action is well-financed with a view to ridding our community of terrorism.”
He also assured that the region was winning the fight against COVID-19, stressing that the ECOWAS member states needed to make further efforts to achieve a further decline in active cases.
On the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement, Akufo-Addo said the West African region stands to gain tremendously from participating in the free trade area when it comes into operation in January 2021.
He called the West African Monetary Agency, West African Monetary Institute, and the Central Banks and Ministries of Finance, to develop, as soon as possible, a new roadmap and macroeconomic convergence and stability pact for adoption by the Authority.
He said further that the region under his leadership will consolidate democracy especially as about five ECOWAS countries- Ghana, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Niger and Cote D’ Ivoire will conduct Presidential elections in 2020.
He also said the ECOWAS is working arduously to ensure a speedy return of Democratic order in Mali, where the military seized power after ousting the government of Boubakar Keita.
In his welcome address, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean Claude-Brou, said Akufo-Addo’s visit to the commission headquarters provided an opportunity for him to share his vision for the regional body.