Chiefs of Defence Staff of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are meeting to proffer solutions to the myriad of security challenges facing the region.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that outgoing Chairman of the Committee of the ECOWAS Chiefs of Defence Staff, Oluseyi Petinrin, an Air Chief Marshal, said at the opening of the two-day meeting the committee has always considered threats affecting the sub-region as a collective responsibility of member countries.
Petinrin, who is also Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff, noted that this collective responsibility approach has produced desired results in the past, though all countries had their individual and collective challenges to the security and defence of the ECOWAS sub-region.
“I am happy to state that during the tenure of Nigeria’s Chairmanship of this committee, we were able to strengthen our operative mechanism towards overcoming these challenges,” he said.
“We have contended with various challenges in almost all the member states, especially as it relates to political crises and conduct of elections in the sub-region.”
Petinrin explained that the committee had deployed troops and contingents to augment the capacity of member states in times of crisis, adding that there was no doubt that it has achieved the common regional strategy, greater integration and coordinated action in the defence and security of the sub-region.
“I am also impressed with our commitment to providing the necessary logistics for the conduct of field exercise towards attaining full fledge operational status of the force,
‘’ Mr. Pentirin said, while explaining the role of the committee towards strengthening the ECOWAS Standby Force.
ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Salamatu Hussaini-Suleman, said the emergency meeting was convened following a directive from the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government during their 40th Summit in Abuja in February.
Hussaini-Suleman explained that the ECOWAS Heads of State directed that the meeting should review all the emerging security threats in the Sahel region and the Gulf of Guinea and propose concrete measures to address the issues.
“We are all aware that threats to national and regional peace and security are becoming much wider due to their political, social and economic dimensions. This therefore calls for us to critically examine and address these issues and proffer sound recommendations on how to tackle them,”she said.
Cote d’Ivoirean Minister of Defence, Paul Koffi, stressed the need for coordinated efforts of the military to tackle security challenges threatening the region, pointing out that the outcome of the meeting, which had 13 countries in attendance, would be beneficial to all member-states in the ECOWAS region.