President Tinubu Calls for ECOWAS Standby Force to Enhance Regional Security

Abuja, Nigeria, July 9, 2024 — President Bola Tinubu of Nigeria has called on the Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to collaborate on establishing and maintaining a regional standby force aimed at bolstering security and fostering economic progress within the region.

Speaking at the 65th Ordinary Session of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government in Abuja, Nigeria, President Tinubu, whose tenure was renewed for a second term as Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, highlighted the urgent need for a standby force in response to growing security threats.

“The regional action plan against terrorism has enhanced cooperation on training, intelligence sharing, and humanitarian interventions,” said President Tinubu. He noted that the Ministers of Finance and Defence had recently met in Abuja to raise funds for activating the ECOWAS Standby Force to boost counter-terrorism efforts. “Member countries are also displaying their commitment to combating insecurity by individually increasing their defence budgets to acquire necessary equipment and ensure preparedness.”

President Tinubu urged member states to provide the necessary resources for securing the region, emphasizing that a peaceful and secure society is essential for achieving the region’s potential. “As we move to operationalize the ECOWAS Standby Force (ESF) in combating terrorism, I must emphasize 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 set forth by our Ministers of Defence and Finance to counter insecurity and stabilize our region.”

He also encouraged ECOWAS leaders to leverage the capabilities of Nigeria’s National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC), recognized as one of the best on the continent, and advised them to realign and reposition their priorities by reducing overheads and setting up in-country steering committees.

In a related development, President Tinubu appointed President Basiru Faye of Senegal as the special mediator between ECOWAS and Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger Republic. He stated that the regional body would explore all avenues for negotiation with these three countries to ensure they rescind their decision to leave ECOWAS.

Dr. Omar Alieu Touray, President of the ECOWAS Commission, thanked President Tinubu for his leadership and emphasized that ECOWAS should be defined by developments rather than conflicts, elections, and coup d’états. He warned that the withdrawal of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger Republic from ECOWAS would adversely affect citizens of those countries and other ECOWAS nations due to the need for visas and the review of all trade and development agreements, including ongoing ECOWAS projects in those countries.

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