• Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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BusinessDay

Tinubu mulls regional standby force to tackle terrorism

Still on the importance of the Office of the Chief Economic Adviser to the President

…says illegal mining, external funding, fueling terrorism in Africa

President Bola Tinubu has proposed the establishment of a regional Standby Force to tackle terrorism, just as he blamed rising insecurity in Africa on illegal mining and external funding.

“Terrorism snipes at the very fabric of the tranquil, prosperous and just societies we seek to build for ourselves and our children. Terror cannot co-exist in the same space as democracy and good governance, just as darkness and light cannot endure in the same room at the same time,” Tinubu stated at the Africa high-level meeting on counter-terrorism held in Abuja on Monday.

Tinubu told African leaders that the continent “must tell this imported evil that wants to bend and break us, that it shall do neither; instead of making us bow, we shall banish it.

“And how do we banish it? Terrorism’s harm is felt far and wide for the very reason that it has no respect for national boundaries, ethnic bloodlines or religious creeds.

“We must, therefore, fight this threat together, combining determined national efforts with well-tailored regional and international collaboration.

The president also noted that the terrorist’s violent threat seeks to frighten the farmer from his field, children from their schools, women from the marketplace and families from their very homes. It wants the city dweller to cower and businesses to close.

“It craves despotism and suppression, not democracy and enlightened society. Its goal is to cause such havoc that we doubt our democratic principles, putting societies and governments into such confusion and disarray that we begin fighting among ourselves instead of fighting the very thing that seeks our destruction.

He noted also that terrorism has taken too many lives and delayed the people’s future for too long.

“While terrorism troubles us greatly at the moment, we do well by remembering terrorism is not of Africa.

“The fight against terrorism requires a comprehensive approach. We must address the root causes of extremism, such as poverty, marginalisation, and social injustice. However, this important fact should not become empty rhetoric, devoid of meaning or action.

Tinubu also called on African leaders to address both the root causes of terrorism, as well as factors that feed the evil branch.

The president said terrorism was becoming a greater threat as it perfects ways to continuously finance, re-equip and re-supply itself for its sinister mission, adding that “not only does it kidnap people, it kidnaps precious resources. Billions upon billions of dollars that legitimate governments should be using to sculpt better societies by providing education, health care and food for its people now go to pay for weapons and mayhem.

“Look at the illegal mining that plagues so many of our nations today. Those who think illegal mining has no connection with financing terrorism are sorely mistaken.

He declared that the international community has both the moral and legal obligation to help in this cause because it is outside money not African money that fuels the illegal operations. We shall be knocking on the door of the international community to answer this call for justice, peace and fair play.

“Key to our collective efforts against terrorism is the urgent need for a fully operational regional counter-terrorism centre.

“This centre will serve as a hub for intelligence sharing, operational coordination, and capacity building throughout our region.

He also called for the strengthening of existing counter-terrorism structures such as the Regional Intelligence Fusion Unit (RIFU) Abuja, the African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism (ACSRT) in Algiers and the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (CISSA) in Addis Ababa.

“A regional Standby Force that includes tackling terrorism as part of its mandate must not be abandoned. I am mindful of the funding, legal and logistical complexities that face the proper establishment of such a force.

“With a prudent and clearly defined mandate that accords with the international law and respects national sovereignty such a force can serve as a rapid deployment mechanism, capable of swiftly responding to major threats and bolstering the security of our region.

“Such a force can stand as a strong deterrent to large-scale and protracted terrorist operations and the capture, occupation or disruption of strategic land and resources. We must continue to make careful yet meaningful progress toward this goal.

He also called for the establishment of an all-inclusive African Union ministerial committee on counter-terrorism, which he described as a “high priority as envisaged in the Declaration of the 16th Extraordinary Summit of the African Union Assembly two years ago in May 2022.

“This would ensure that a forum of high-level government officials meets regularly to assess our counter-terrorism efforts and provide guidance on how to improve.

He assured that Nigeria remains firmly committed to fighting terrorism and violent extremism. They are our most urgent national security threat.

“Our counter-terrorism capabilities have been enhanced through the enactment of the Terrorism Prevention and Prohibition Act, establishing the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC). We have and will continue to take bold steps forward in safeguarding our nation and the wider region.

“Dedicated to coordinating and implementing counter-terrorism strategies, the NCTC significantly enhances our capacity to detect, prevent, and respond to terrorist threats

The centre has become a platform; fostering greater collaboration among stakeholders and promoting synergy in our approach to fighting terrorism. Similarly, our security forces continue to demonstrate courage and dedication in the fight against terrorism, often at great personal risk. I am grateful for the selfless work and sacrifice of these patriotic men and women. They are the best of the best,” Tinubu said.