Nigeria’s Tinubu Calls for Establishment of ECOWAS Regional Standby Force

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President Bola Tinubu has called on ECOWAS Heads of State and Government to work towards establishing and sustaining a regional standby force for the security and economic advancement of the community.

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Speaking at the opening session of the 65th Ordinary Session of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government in Abuja, President Tinubu also recommended leveraging the capabilities of Nigeria’s National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC), recognized as one of the best on the continent.

“The Nigerian government has decided to make the NCTC a regional center to enable all ECOWAS member states to benefit from capacity building and other related opportunities it offers,” Tinubu announced.

Highlighting the necessity of such a standby force amid growing security threats in the region, Tinubu stated, “The Regional Action Plan against Terrorism has enhanced cooperation on training, intelligence sharing, and humanitarian interventions. Recently, the Ministers of Finance and Defence met in Abuja to raise funds for activating the ECOWAS Standby Force to boost counter-terrorism efforts. Member countries are also showing their commitment by increasing their defense budgets to acquire necessary equipment and ensure preparedness.”

Tinubu emphasized the importance of resource allocation, urging member states to commit more to securing the region. “A peaceful and secure society is essential for achieving our potential. As we operationalize the ECOWAS Standby Force (ESF) in combating terrorism, it requires not only strong political will but also substantial financial resources,” he said.

The President also called for better alignment and prioritization within ECOWAS management to reduce overheads and focus on impactful programs. He urged all member states to ensure full compliance with the Protocol on the Community Levy. “Nigeria, under my leadership, is committed to leading by example in remitting its collected levies to the organization. ECOWAS management must reduce its overhead expenditures and focus on programs and activities that directly impact the lives of our citizens,” Tinubu added.

President Tinubu welcomed the latest member of the Authority, Senegalese President Bassirou Diomaye Faye, and congratulated the people of Senegal on their successful presidential election, which was widely regarded as free, fair, transparent, and credible.

The session also addressed concerns in the region, including terrorist activities and violent extremism threatening to spread from the Sahel region towards the coastal states. Tinubu emphasized the need for innovative approaches to unleash the region’s vast economic potential, calling for partnerships that promote investment, regional trade, and infrastructure development.

President Tinubu also sought support for Ambassador Bankole Adeoye’s re-election as AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace, and Security in February 2025.

Omar Touray, President of the ECOWAS Commission, thanked Tinubu for his leadership and stressed that ECOWAS should be defined by development rather than conflicts, elections, and coups. Touray noted that the exit of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger from ECOWAS would affect the citizens of those countries and other ECOWAS members, particularly concerning visas, trade agreements, and ongoing projects.

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