President Muhammadu Buhari says it is a “matter of concern” that terrorism and violent extremism have continued to threaten the peace of West Africa.
He made the comment on Saturday during his speech at the 54th ordinary session of heads of state and government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Abuja.
Buhari said in his speech: “ECOWAS is still confronted by several challenges. The sub-region continues to face difficulties in the economic, governance, peace, security and humanitarian fields.
“As we all know, the primary objective of ECOWAS as set out in its Treaty, is to promote cooperation and integration, leading to the establishment of an Economic and Monetary Union in West Africa, in order to raise the living standards of our people and contribute to the progress and development of the African continent.
“Indeed as a Community, our aspiration is to create a borderless, peaceful, prosperous and cohesive region, based on good governance and where our people have the capacity to access and harness its resources through the creation of opportunities for sustainable development, job creation and environmental preservation.
“These lofty ideals are however not attainable without peace and security. That is why I have decided to make the issue of peace and security the major focus of my Chairmanship. I am happy to inform this august assembly that our efforts have started yielding dividends as we have been able to douse tension and restore confidence in some potentially disruptive political situations, particularly in Guinea Bissau, Togo and Mali.
“It is a matter of concern that terrorism and violent extremism have continued to threaten the peace and security in our sub-region. This threat calls for collective action on our part, if we are to effectively and definitively eliminate it. As we work on new strategies to combat and eradicate this menace, we require the support of our partners to ensure the achievement of our objectives.
“Still on sub-regional peace, as you are all aware, Nigeria and Senegal will hold general elections in February 2019. On my part, I have already made a pledge to conduct free, fair and credible elections.”
The president also noted that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), security agencies and other political stakeholders have expressed their “unwavering commitment” to the conduct of peaceful elections in Nigeria.