The German Government through the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) Tuesday in Abuja facilitated a meeting of Members of ECOWAS Member States to strengthen collaborative efforts in tackling insecurity in the sub-region.
Dr Vladimir Kreck, Resident Representative of KAS, Nigeria said the two-day meeting high level brought together Security Chiefs, Parliamentarians and government to discuss ways of improving the security architecture of West Africa.
The meeting was with the theme “Tackling Security Challenges in West Africa: Embracing Coordination and Cooperation”.
According to him, the security crisis in the West Africa was a huge which spreads across countries in the sub-region that could not be tackled by one country alone, but a joint effort of Member State.
“The issue in the region shows that security cannot be achieved in isolation, by individual countries.
“Many of the threats countries in West Africa face are very common, terrorism, cross border crimes, smuggling, human trafficking and they can only be tackled in joint initiatives of countries in West Africa.
“In other to achieve that, we decided with my colleagues from Mali, my colleague from Senegal, the Gambia to bring together parliamentarians, think tanks, security agencies from nine countries in West Africa.
“In other to deliberate on the ways how we can improve security in the region.
“We are active in the G5 with a lot of support, until recently in Mali, German troops were based fighting against terrorism, supporting the missions in Mali and the security agencies in Mali.
“The German Army provides a lot of capacity building in the region as well and the Foreign office funding us and other programmes in the region.
“Try to enhance, try to facilitate the process of International collaboration between the countries, between the governments and the parliaments and security agencies of these countires in the region”, Kreck said.
Kreck said that the German government has assisted Nigeria in its fight against the insurgents in the North East in several ways, most of which are not known to many Nigerians.
He listed the areas of support to include providing equipment to the Nigerian Army and capacity building of the military on how to use the equipment.
He said that the German government also constructed and maintains the hospital in Kaduna for casualties where soldiers wounded in Borno State and other conflict regions are been treated.
The KAS representative said that it was important to bring stakeholders from the sub-region together but what was more important was to achieve a fruitful deliberation and continuity of the meeting to put an end to insecurity in the sub-region.
Also speaking, Brig.-Gen. Usman Yusuf, Chief of Staff, ECOWAS Standby Force said that to effectively tackle the security challenges in West Africa, countries must agree to work together.
Commending the efforts of ECOWAS in restoring political stability to some countries in the Sub-region, Yusuf said that ECOWAS through various bodies was working tirelessly to silent the guns in conflict ravaged countries.
Yusuf said that ECOWAS was the only region that has been able to go into crisis region and successfully bring that crises to an end, conclude and install government.
He listed some of the successes of ECOWAS military interventions in Liberia and Sierra Lone, under the auspices of ECOMOG, the Gambia and currently Guinea Bissau.
He said that the total defeat of Boko Haram also calls for more collaborative efforts of countries in the Lake Chad Basin Region as the insurgents move across the border.
“The problem in Nigeria’s North East is not a Nigerian problem it is because these problems are spilling from our borders.
“If the countries have capacity to provide security within their countries, these guys will not spill into Nigeria, within Nigeria, we do not have any camp that says this is where Boko Haram is.
“The Chief of Army Staff has spoken severally, we have destroyed largely all Boko Haram enclaves within the country.
“We still have something like a cross border raid, cross border, conduct havoc, attack a community before the security forces mobilize and start going they have withdrawn.
“Before you get to them they have crossed the border back to the other country.
“So it is for the other countries to develop the abilities to be able to contain this and make sure that either they are not able to cross back.
“They have destroyed or they don’t even allow them come into our country in the first place,” Yusuf said.
Yusuf reiterated the need for collaborative efforts of countries in the Lake Chad Basin Region to build and deploy forces to contain the porous borders.