President Muhammadu Buhari has backed the recommendation of the African Union Commission for the setting up of a Standby Force on Terrorism in the continent.
This is just as he charged African leaders to muster the political will that will fuel synergy, enhance intelligence gathering and bring more urgency in tackling violent crimes.
Also, President Buhari charged African political leaders to respect the right of citizens to make their choices in elections, saying the right to vote and determine who leads them should not be treated lightly.
Speaking yesterday in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea during the 16th African Union Extra-ordinary Session of the Assembly of African Union on Terrorism and Violent Extremism in Africa, the president said resources meant for development of countries had been channelled into fighting violent crimes, leaving many governments with less options on investing in people to meet the targets of Sustainable Development Goals.
With the presentation of a report on Terrorism and Violent Extremism in Africa at the meeting, President Buhari highlighted four items on the recommendation for immediate action.
He said: “In the West African region, we are working very hard through the instrumentality of ECOWAS to combat terrorism. The Multi National Joint Task Force in the Lake Chad region and the G5 in the Sahel have continued to degrade the insurgents by substantially reducing their capacity to inflict harm on our citizens.
“Mr. Chairman, these efforts however, need to be strengthened and complemented by the African Union, through the African Union Peace and Security Architecture.
“It is for this reason, Mr. Chairperson, that we endorse the key recommendations contained in your report. Some of the recommendations which we believe should be implemented immediately include;
“Increasing troop levels in situations of combating terrorism, and enhancing intelligence capabilities of deployed troops, including improving the operational cooperation of contingents in the operation areas;
“Ensuring the readiness of the African Standby Force for immediate response when a member state is under terrorist threat;
“Strengthening the fight against cybercrime, money laundering, drugs and arms trafficking, smuggling of persons and counterfeit goods, which facilitate terrorist financing; and
“Ensuring that specialised institutions like the African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism and AFRIPOL, are adequately resourced in order for them to effectively discharge their mandate”.
While validating the report on terrorism, the president underscored the need for political will to forge a “Coordinated Continental Approach to tackling insecurity.’’
“It is for this reason, that we commend the Chairperson of the Commission for his comprehensive report on Terrorism and Violent Extremism in Africa. The report is very enriching, resonating and it behoves on us as the Assembly of the African Union to show the political will and forge a Coordinated Continental Approach to tackling insecurity, as we must entrench peace and stability on our continent,’’ he added.
According to him, the recommendations, if implemented, will go a long way in increasing the capacity of affected states to respond to the threats posed by terrorists and violent extremists in their respective countries.
He said: “Your Excellencies, this summit affords us yet another opportunity as leaders of the continent to rub minds and take far reaching decisions to address the challenges of terrorism and violent extremism on our continent.