President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has challenged the Accra Initiative to pursue a comprehensive programme that will promote social intervention initiatives in member states.
That, he said, was to help address development gaps in vulnerable communities within the member states which contributed to insecurity and threats of terrorism in Africa.
He made the call at the opening of a high-level counter-terrorism conference of the Accra Initiative in Accra yesterday.
The initiative is a mechanism for enhanced intelligence sharing among member states.
It has evolved in relevance and stature, capturing the imagination of members of the international community as an innovative, homegrown solution to a regional problem.
Currently, the initiative comprises seven nations — Ghana, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Niger and Togo, with Nigeria set to become a full member in due course.
The conference sought to draw the attention of the international community to the worsening security situation in the Sahel region, which is threatening to engulf the entire West Africa.
It broke into closed doors after the opening session, which was attended by the Presidents of Benin and Togo, Patrice Talon and Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé Eyadéma, respectively; the Prime Ministers of Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso, Patrick Achi and Joachim Kyelem de Tambela, respectively, and the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr Omar Alieu Touray.
Others were the British Minister for the Armed Forces, James Heappey, and representatives of regional, continental and international organisations.
President Akufo-Addo, who chaired the opening ceremony, noted that the Accra Initiative was grounded on the principles of good political and security governance, with the ideals of ownership and synergies among member states serving as the pivot around which the initiative revolved.
He explained that the summit also sought to shed light on the work of the initiative and identify opportunities and challenges.
That, he said, could serve as the basis for forging closer collaboration and cooperation between members of the initiative and members of the international community.
The President indicated that through the successful conduct of previous joint ad hoc operations, the ability of member states to cooperate and collaborate among themselves in pursuit of a common agenda had stood the test of scrutiny.
While declaring that the Accra Initiative operated on the principle of complementality, he said it should ensure that its vision and mission were consistent with the counter-terrorism frameworks of the UN, the AU and ECOWAS.
He said the initiative should not be seen as being opposed to existing counter-terrorism frameworks in Africa, adding that it was a preventative, rather than reactive, approach to support the overall fight against terrorism and violent extremism.
President Akufo-Addo indicated that the Accra Initiative, at this relatively young stage in its evolution, had successfully demonstrated the imperatives of inter-governmental cooperation and collaboration towards mounting a strong fight against the spread of terrorism and violent extremism from the Sahel to coastal West Africa.
Dr Touray called for coordination that would help welcome all other initiatives to fight the scourge and avoid the duplication of efforts and the efficient mobilisation of available resources.
He said it was the conviction of ECOWAS that the objective of the Accra Initiative could be integrated and realised within the scope of the ECOWAS Plan of Action for the eradication of terrorism.
“In particular, the objective of the Accra Initiative is very much aligned with components Two and Four of the ECOWAS Plan of Action,” he stated.
No hidden agenda
The President of the European Union (EU) Commission, Charles Michel, said the EU did not have any hidden agenda but believed that the threat must be dealt with for the peace and safety of innocent people and the development of the area.
He said the EU would continue with its capacity building and provision of resources for the people in the area to lead in the initiative.
He also urged governments and other stakeholders to do well to deal with misinformation churned out through social media.