Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has lauded the renewed vigour by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) member countries to mobilise their own resources to combat terrorism.
Speaking at the opening of High Level meeting of the African Union Peace and Security Council on the State of Peace and Security in Africa at the 33rd AU Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Buhari called for new strategies by the Union to effectively prevent, manage and resolve conflicts in the face of new circumstances and emerging challenges.
Malam Garba Shehu, a presidential spokesman in a statement in Abuja, yesterday, quoted Buhari as saying Nigeria has fulfilled its financial obligations to the AU Peace Fund up to 2019, pledging to continue investing on peace and security on the continent.
President Buhari declared that Nigeria is proud to continue to serve as a strong contributor to the peace roles played by the regional bloc.
“In Burkina Faso, we (ECOWAS) pledged to mobilise one billion US dollars to address the challenges of insecurity in our region and the Sahel. In Guinea Bissau, ECOWAS successfully midwifed the general elections. Nigeria along with ECOWAS member states led in the restoration of democracy and peace in the Gambia.”
He welcomed the collaborative leadership of the AU with other Regional Economic Communities in resolving conflicts on the continent.
On security challenges in Africa, Buhari said it was regrettable that terrorism, violent extremism and other forms of vicious conflicts had continued to cause mayhem and untold crisis on the continent.
“Nigeria condemns, in the strongest terms, the perpetrators of terrorism in Libya, the Sahel, Lake Chad Basin, and parts of the Horn of Africa. We reiterate that efforts must continue to be pooled to mitigate this dreadful violence and secure the future of our continent,” he said.
To resolve conflicts on the continent, he said the AU must strengthen its own capacity for mediation and develop an effective intervention roadmap.
He also welcomed the decision of the AU Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) to adopt the regional stabilization strategy for the Lake Chad Basin and the renewal of mandates of the Multi National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) and the G5 Sahel Joint Force.
He told the meeting that Nigeria was encouraged by the resolution of the continent’s standing decision-making body for conflict prevention, management and resolution on the Lake Chad Basin.
Meanwhile, President Buhari has told his Canadian counterpart, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, that is eager to expand trade with the North America country because, “you are one of the ‘biggest customers’, of Nigeria’s crude oil.”
He described Nigeria-Canada relations as cordial, expressing his desire to further strengthen bilateral ties.
A statement by Garba Shehu said Buhari underscored the warm and friendly relations between Nigeria and Canada, noting commonwealth membership of both nations and the choice of Canada for higher education by Nigerian students.
‘‘We have a lot of students in Canada. We are aware of our vital roles to keep the country together. We are eager to expand trade because you are one of the ‘biggest customers’, of Nigeria’s crude oil. But the most important and enduring relations with Canada is education,’’ he said.
Canadian Prime Minister described President Buhari as ‘‘a leader in Africa”, adding “Your leadership and reflection on the current situation challenging Africa but also the potentials and opportunities are something that I am very much looking up to.
“Canada and Nigeria have a long-standing and deep connection and friendship, and I very much look forward to hearing your perspectives on many big issues facing not just Africa but the world,’’ he said.