The United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have advised Nigeria and other countries of the Sahel region on the need for a unified approach in the counter-terrorism, counter-insurgency and counter-radicalisation efforts.
This was the highlight of a meeting in Abuja on Friday, where participants expressed concerns about the continued security and socio-economic challenges facing the Sahel region, and concluded that a coherent and coordinated plan was essential in tackling them.
The stakeholders agreed that the proliferation of arms in the region was a major challenge that could only be addressed with strong commitment and cooperation among member states.
Speaking at the event, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean Brou, who was represented by the ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Gen. Francis Benhanzim, noted that regional efforts in anti-terrorism campaigns had centered on repressive approaches.
He said, “The focus should be on prevention, targeting specific areas like job creation for the teeming youth population, poverty reduction, education among others.
“It is indispensable to strengthen our collaboration in the areas of resources mobilisation, as well as aligning development projects of member states with regional targets and goals.”
The Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on UNOWAS, Mohammed Ibn Chambers, said despite the renewed efforts to tackle the threats to stability and development, the Sahel and Lake Chad regions remained fragile with increasing violence and terrorist activities.
He said a decisive step in the efforts to further harmonise partnership, build synergies and a joint intervention could not be overemphasised.