President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana has called on West African leaders to consolidate efforts to root out terrorism from the region.
Akufo-Addo made the call in his opening speech during the ECOWAS Parliament first Extraordinary Session in 2021 to strengthen the fight against security, democracy, stability and economic recovery of the sub-region.
The president said in spite of the best efforts in dealing with the menace by the ECOWAS leaders, there were persistent attempts to distabilise several countries of the ECOWAS community.
He said these include attacks on state symbols, to civilian populations and military bases.
Akuffo-Addo said this has been the case recently in Niger, Mali, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Nigeria.
He further said the peace and security, as well as safeguarding the democratic institutions of member states, were currently a major challenge for the region.
“We cannot sufficiently reiterate the importance of peace and stability to the growth and development of our region.
“It is important that we consolidate our efforts in rooting out terrorism and threats of terrorism in West Africa,” Akuffo-Addo said.
Akuffo-Addo further said that apart from the people of the region living in constant fear of uncertainty, the region cannot expect to attract the requisite levels of investment should the state of insecurity persists.
He added that the ECOWAS region must take more rigorous actions in coordinating measures to ensure terrorism was brought to an end in the region.
Akufo-Addo also said the region must in the same vein, pay equal attention to bringing an end to insecurity in the maritime space in the Gulf of Guinea which is today, the greatest hotbed of piracy in the entire world.
“This is not a reputation we deserve and we must work together urgently to change the narrative,” Akufo-Addo added.
The President added that it was of paramount importance that the parliamentarians endeavour to undertake programmes and activities that will help curb the scourge of terrorism, insurgency, banditry and piracy.
“The community expects you to use your relations to help attain the desire results,” the Ghanaian President further said.
Speaker of the Parliament, Side Tunis said that the session would provide opportunity for Members of Parliament to deliberate on the challenges confronting the sub-region with a bid to addressing them.
Tunis said the Session will also provide the opportunity for Members of Parliament to present to plenary the country report of each state.
“Over the past years, enormous efforts has been invested towards building a synergy between the Community Parliament, our National Parliaments, and Member States at large.
“In achieving this, we have focused our attention on salient issues of integration; notably, ECOWAS budget, trans-border crimes, and other areas of mutually agreed legislative competences of ECOWAS interest and benefits.
“Furthermore, it has become a matter of principle that at each Ordinary Session, National Delegations are afforded the platform to present to the plenary the Country Report of each State and this will be one of the highlights of this session.
“Considering the aforementioned, the report will highlight: Status of the implementation of the governance instruments and community protocols, the political and security situation in member states, implementation of the Common External Tariff.
“Status of the Implementation of the community levy and attainment of the convergence criteria, human rights issues as well as women and youth development.
“These will form the basis of the presentations and we are committed to not only listening to and receiving the reports but will fully consider the contents and if need be, render opinion on issues emanating there from”, Tunis said.
Senate President Ahmed Lawan said while the ECOWAS Protocol on Free Movement of Persons and Goods remained a prized policy, yet, insecurity, instability, and conflicts were matters requiring continuous attention.
Lawan added that the freedom to move between member nations was helpful to sub-regional economic growth, besides increasing the attendant benefits like job creation, reduction in underemployment, stimulation of economic multipliers, and better wellbeing.
He further said this can hardly happen in an atmosphere of strife, cross-border crimes like banditry, insurgency, drug trafficking, and ceaseless ethno-religious struggles, amidst others.
“As parliamentarians, we must examine the dimensions associated with these occurrences towards appropriate interventions. An accord of purpose between member nations creates the needed synergy for the actualization of uniform visions”, Lawan said. (NAN)