Buhari tasks West African leaders on collective action for better sub-region
Youths seek involvement to end violent extremism, terrorism
President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, called for stronger partnership among Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) leaders to tackle the challenges facing the sub-region, noting that the political, economic, security and COVID-19 issues require collective action.
Speaking at the bloc’s 60th Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government in Abuja, the Nigerian leader pointed out that West Africa faces renewed threats manifest in the pandemic, political tensions, terrorism and economic problems.
He said: “All of these challenges require our collective action to pragmatically address and provide our people better prospects in life. Today’s realities remind us of the need to continue to forge stronger solidarity in order to address the new challenges, including the current third wave of the pandemic and its new Omicron variant.
“I am glad that ECOWAS and the West Africa Health Organisation (WAHO) are continuing to work with our respective national disease control centres to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on our people and sub-region.”
In his remarks, Ghanaian President and Chairman of the Authority of Heads of State and Government, Nana Akufo-Addo, said about 10,000 people had died from the virus in sub-region, with only two per cent of the population fully vaccinated, while six per cent got one dose.
He noted that the emergence of the new variant poses fresh threats, adding that the sanctions and restrictions on travelling were unjustified.
President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean Claude Brou, had apprised the leaders on the economic, political and security challenges facing the region, calling for concerted efforts to tackle the difficulties.
SIMILARLY, youths from 17 West African countries and the Sahel have called on the leaders to accelerate efforts towards ending violent extremism and terrorism in the region by engaging young people.
They also urged ECOWAS and member-states to set aside quotas for youths in decision-making process.
The young people made the calls at the yearly West African and Sahel Youth Forum with the theme, “Young women and men at the heart of innovation and the construction of peaceful and resilient societies” in Abuja.
The event was organised by United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) in collaboration with ECOWAS and Nigeria.
Presenting the declaration of the forum tagged, “Abuja Call to Action for building peaceful and resilient societies in West Africa and the Sahel,” Abdulrahman Zakariyau of the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) stressed the need to translate into action youth policies and programmes in the region.
The body said it was worried by the rising violent extremism in the region, which it said, was occasioned by vulnerability, unemployment and idleness of young people.
It urged governments and regional organisations to adequately address youth issues and concerns in relation to the recognition of their rights and strengthening of their roles in the fight against insecurity and violent extremism in West Africa.
Also speaking, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), Mahamat Saleh Annadif, reaffirmed the need to take measures to further support young people.
He equally reiterated the commitment of the global agency to provide, in collaboration with ECOWAS and other partners, the necessary support to assist young people fully play their role in strengthening peace, democracy and development in West Africa and the Sahel.