The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has challenged West African leaders to evolve new strategies that could fast-track speedy economic growth and end insecurity in the sub-region.
Buhari lamented that terrorism remained a major threat to peace and progress in West Africa.
He stated this on Saturday at the 56th ordinary session of the ECOWAS Authority of the Heads of State and Government which held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He said, “Let me now restate Nigeria’s commitment to regional integration and stress the need to always channel our energies towards realising new strategies and initiatives, which will accelerate the attainment of our regional aspirations for sustainable peace, security, stability and inclusive economic growth.
“To achieve these, we must put our people at the heart of our policies.”
According to him, attacks by terrorist groups had heightened the urgency to build an enduring security partnership to confront and defeat the evil of cross-border terrorism.
“It was with great shock and immense pain that I received the news of the tragedy last week in the Tilabari Region of Niger Republic, where over 33 valiant soldiers and other citizens of the country were brutally massacred in yet another cowardly terrorist attack by these enemies of peace and progress,” the President added.
Buhari invited the leaders for a one-minute silence in respect for civilians and the soldiers killed by the insurgents.
In his remarks, the President of the Republic of Niger and Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, Issoufou Mahamadou, said the creation of a common area of peace, security and economic integration, was key to the future of the region.
He explained that the region had been hard-hit by terrorist attacks which were intensifying with every passing day, threatening the many national and regional achievements the region had recorded.
“We, therefore, hope that the prompt implementation of the recommendations of our extraordinary summit on terrorism held on 14th September 2019, will enable us to collectively meet this challenge which appears to be an attack by faithless criminals on our dignity and sovereignty,” Issoufou said.
The Nigerien President further said the terrorist attacks continued to test the region’s commitment to fighting the scourge, stating that it was incumbent on the region to respond to all the attacks with firmness and determination.
The meeting was also attended by Nigeria’s former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (retd.)