President John Dramani Mahama, Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States(ECOWAS), on Friday said his administration would focus on the rehabilitation of structures to ensure peace and security in the sub-region.
He said although the objectives and vision of ECOWAS was on the maintenance of peace, unity and security in the sub-region, he would, in his capacity as the chairman of the community, improve and rehabilitate the existing structures to take it to a higher level.
President Mahama said this during the opening ceremony of the Extraordinary Session of ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government at Movenpick Ambassador Hotel in Accra.
The meeting, which is under the behest of President Mahama as his first meeting organised since assuming the chairmanship of the sub- region in March this year, would among other things, discuss the menace of Boko Haram in Nigeria where over 200 school children are currently being held hostage.
It would also focus on the political turbulence in Mali, and other security threats among ECOWAS member-states.
In attendance are Presidents Ernest Bai Koromah of Sierra Leone, Dr Thomas Yayi Boni of Benin and Mr Blaise Campaore of Burkina Faso.
Others are Presidents Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria, Alassane Quattara of la Cote d,Ivoire, Macky Sall of Senegal and Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, while other countries have sent representatives.
Also present at the meeting are Edward Doe-Adjaho, Speaker of Parliament, Former President Jerry John Rawlings, Ministers of State, Members of Parliament and members of the Diplomatic Corps.
President Mahama said the only viable way to fight the current security threats in the sub- region was through the sharing of experience and vital information and resources that would propel their agenda.
He appealed to all member-states to be on the alert and be vigilant, to ward off some of the threats, he said, would be overcome in the coming times, adding”we need to take some risks to salvage the security threats in the sub-region.”
The President said:”Even the Terrorist groups share information in order to succeed, and we as member-states also need to share vital information that will make us successful .”
He said in spite of the political and cultural barriers that were created by colonial masters, the people of West Africa owe their citizens the duty of creating wealth, prosperity and peace to make them comfortable.
President Mahama said the decision to celebrate ECOWAS and African Union Days in silence, was in solidarity with the people of Nigeria, Mali and Guinea Bissau, who were suffering from some forms of political and social disturbances in the sub- region.
He said the sub- region was already suffering in terms of joblessness, poverty and disease, and should therefore not allow any persons or groups of persons, to use their countries as the citadel of instability and confusion.
Kadre Desire Quedraogo, President of the ECOWAS Commission, said the meeting would review the security situation in Northern Mali, and Northern Nigeria, following the tragic and deplorable events that occurred in those areas recently.
He said although an amount of peace and stability had been recorded in Mali currently, there was the need to work towards the sustainability of peace and security in the area to make their citizens comfortable in their daily activities.
The ECOWAS Commission President urged the armed groups to strictly adhere to their commitments to lay down their arms and embrace the inclusive dialogue for national reconciliation in Mali.
“I would like to begin by re-affirming ECOWAS strong condemnation of these acts of terrorism, and in particular the abduction of the Chibok girls, and express our total solidarity with the government and people of Nigeria in the rather difficult time,” he added.
He, however, gave the assurance that with the determination they had demonstrated over time, they would overcome the difficulties adding ” I also draw my optimism from our success in managing the previous crisis in the member-states of our community.”