ECOWAS states must meet financial commitments to address security challenges – Tinubu

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President Bola Tinubu, in his capacity as the reelected Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Authority of Heads of State and Government, has urged member states to honour their financial obligations to the regional organization.

Tinubu said adequate funding is vital to address the region’s pressing security concerns.

Speaking at the 65th Ordinary Session of ECOWAS, he emphasised that substantial financial resources are crucial to operationalizing the ECOWAS Standby Force (ESF) and combating terrorism, banditry, and violent extremism.

Tinubu appealed to ECOWAS member states to fulfil their financial commitments, enabling the organization to implement the recommendations of its defence and finance ministers and meet the expected standards.

By honouring their financial obligations, ECOWAS member states will demonstrate their unwavering commitment to regional security and cooperation, which is crucial for stabilising the region and effectively combating insecurity, he said.

Tinubu said that fulfilling these commitments will enable the community to collectively tackle the security challenges plaguing West Africa, fostering a more secure and stable region.

He said: “Let me underscore that a peaceful and secure society is essential for achieving our potential. As we move to operationalize the ECOWAS Standby Force (ESF) in combating terrorism, I must emphasise 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 in order to counter the insecurity and stabilise our region. Member states must make an extra commitment to providing resources for stabilizing the region.

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“To this end, I urge ECOWAS to leverage the capability of the Nigeria National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), which is widely acknowledged as one of the best on the continent.

“The Nigerian government has decided to declare the NCTC a regional centre to enable all ECOWAS member states to benefit from capacity building and other related opportunities it offers.

“Your excellencies, dear heads of state, I urge those of you with time to visit the centre before your departure and assess first-hand the facilities and capabilities of NCTC.”

Tinubu also called on ECOWAS member states to foster unity and creativity in harnessing the region’s economic potential, driving prosperity, and overcoming prevailing economic obstacles.

He stressed collaborative partnerships, strategic investments, and robust infrastructure development to propel the region’s economic growth and surmount existing challenges.

Tinubu highlighted the crucial need for a favourable business climate to foster growth and bolster resilience against external economic shocks.

He urged member states to implement the protocol on community levies, ensuring a stable financial foundation for the organization’s initiatives.

Additionally, he reaffirmed Nigeria’s commitment to meeting its financial obligations, emphasizing the importance of collective responsibility in addressing the financial challenges facing ECOWAS.

He said: “I’m also fully aware of other challenges confronting our region, especially the economic hurdles that hinder our progress to elevate our people from poverty to prosperity. It is imperative that we unite as a community and develop innovative approaches to unleash our vast economic potential.

“We must continue to identify and develop partnerships that promote investment in key sectors and promote regional trade.

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“Furthermore, we must invest in our infrastructure and cultivate a conducive business environment to empower our community to stimulate growth and build resilience against external shock. Together, we can pave the way for a prosperous future for all ECOWAS countries.

“I also acknowledge the financial challenges of our organization. Difficult economic conditions and consistent payment of financial commitments to ECOWAS have contributed to the current plight. To ensure ECOWAS has adequate resources for its programmes and activities, I urge all member states to ensure full compliance to the protocol on the community levy.

“Nigeria, under my leadership, is committed to leading by example by remitting its collected levies to the organisation.”

On his part, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Omar Alieu Touray, said the region has proven that democracy is alive given the successful transition in Senegal, Nigeria, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, and Liberia in recent times.

He said: “We look forward to the consolidation of this trend in the region as we prepare for a major election in Ghana later this year.

“Our region is still confronted with multiple interlocking threats, including existential threats. This includes climatic and man-made crises leading to terrorism and violent extremism, and food insecurity. Livelihoods continued to be threatened by the illegal and unsustainable exploitation of our land, forests, and marine resources.

“Governance deficit and marginalisation have strained social contracts, engendering bitter rivalries and unhealthy competition. To complicate the situation, our region has become the arena of geo-strategic and geo-political rivalries and the theatre of misinformation and disinformation that engenders mistrust among and within communities and undermine social cohesion.”

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Touray announced that the Commission has begun making arrangements to mark the 50th anniversary of ECOWAS, revealing plans to convene a special extraordinary summit focused on shaping the future of the community.

This milestone event will provide a platform for reflection, strategy, and visioning for the next chapter in ECOWAS’ history.

He said: “It is, however, important to note that we will be celebrating our golden jubilee in a context marked by geostrategic and geopolitical rivalries that have not spared our region.

“We must therefore be proactive in our response to these developments. It is for this reason that the Commission is proposing a special, extraordinary summit on the future of our community.

“The Honourable Ministers have considered this proposal and instructed that a memorandum be submitted for your consideration.”

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