• Sunday, July 21, 2024
businessday logo


ECOWAS mull $2.6bn fund to activate standby force

Lekki Toll Gate justice: ECOWAS court slams Nigeria for #EndSARS

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) defense chiefs convened in Abuja to deliberate on the proposed $2.6 billion budget for the activation of the subregion’s standby force.

The meeting, aimed to decide on the size of a potential force and the funding required.

All 15 member countries of ECOWAS, including those currently under sanctions, were invited to the deliberation. The standby force is intended to address terrorism and unconstitutional changes of government within the region.

Mohammed Badaru Abubakar, Nigeria’s Minister of Defence, during the meting, outlined two options for the regional force: a brigade of 5,000 troops costing $2.6 billion annually, and a smaller contingent of 1,500 troops costing $481 million per year.

“This is to fulfill the mandate given by the Authority of Heads of State and Government in December 2023 to set up a regional standby force against terrorism and unconstitutional changes of government,” Abubakar stated.

“These figures underscore the gravity of the task before us,” Abubakar added. “It is therefore imperative that we critically review the options, considering the current challenges confronting our region and the financial concerns facing our various member states.”

President Omar Alieu Touray emphasized the urgent need for mobilizing financial, human, and material resources to combat terrorism in the region.

Touray highlighted the directives issued by the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government during their 64th Ordinary Session in December 2023.

The Authority had instructed the Commission to expedite the convening of this meeting to agree on the modalities for resource mobilization to support the deployment of the regional counter-terrorism force.

Touray reiterated the gravity of the situation, noting that the region has witnessed a shift in the epicenter of global terrorism from the Middle East Middle East and North Africa to sub-Saharan Africa, particularly the Sahel region.

He pointed out the alarming statistics from the 2024 Global Terrorism Index, which revealed that the Sahel region accounted for over half of all deaths from terrorism globally in 2023. Burkina Faso and Mali were highlighted as some of the most impacted countries, with significant increases in terrorist-related fatalities.

“Some member states have lost control of important parts of their territories to terrorist groups,” Touray stated, emphasizing the transborder nature of the menace and the necessity for a collective response.