Nigeria, Togo mobilise African leaders against insecurity, others

President Muhammadu Buhari and his Togolese counterpart, Faure Gnassingbe

President Muhammadu Buhari and his Togolese counterpart, Faure Gnassingbe

FOR about two hours yesterday in Abuja, President Muhammadu Buhari and his Togolese counterpart, Faure Gnassingbe, held a closed door meeting during which they resolved to mobilise other leaders in the Gulf of Guinea for joint action against piracy, maritime insecurity, illicit trafficking and water pollution.

The leaders are to converge in Lome, the capital of Togo, in November this year to find lasting solutions to the problems. At a joint media briefing after the meeting, the two leaders stressed the need for African leaders, especially those within the insurgency-prone areas like Nigeria, Cameroun and Chad, to team up against insecurity and other common challenges.

Gnassingbe noted that the proposed summit is essentially in response to the challenges posed by maritime insecurity in Africa, which he said is costing the continent about $1bilion yearly. “The cost of maritime insecurity is so much that we cannot allow it to go that way.

For instance, piracy alone costs the Gulf of Guinea $7 billion a year, that is what we lose for not combating it and we also know that without cooperation, you cannot combat piracy.

But the first stage is to come together and talk. “If all the African countries are on the same page, it would be easy to tackle the security challenges. We have to keep holding summits because individual countries cannot combat piracy effectively without cooperation.

If you try to fight them in Togo, they would go to the next country, then you don’t have the mechanism to go into the other countries. “That is why I have come here to inform the President that Togo is hosting summit on maritime security and development in November. That summit will deal with issues of piracy and we know that one of the problems of Nigeria is the theft of oil through the sea.

The summit will also deal with illicit-trafficking on the sea, like drug trafficking and human trafficking. There is also the issue of polluting our waters.

Toxic things are poured into the water, killing the eco system in our African seas.” The Togolese leader also expressed solidarity with his host and Nigeria over the scourge of Boko Haram, and lauded the Nigerian security forces as they battle terrorism in West Africa. “What you are doing here to fight terrorism in Nigeria is to promote security on the African continent.

Security is a big issue within our sub-region, we saw what happened in Mali and all the recent conflicts in our region. In the last 10 to 20 years, we have been dealing with security issues. We pray that God will help Nigeria overcome. “Another important issue is that of migration, because some of our African brothers and sisters travel to Europe through the high sea and many of them die in the sea.

We cannot sit and do nothing about it. “We have to ensure that those who want to travel out go there in a good condition. That is why we are extending invitation to President Buhari for Nigeria to be at the summit to contribute to its success.”

Buhari expressed appreciation to his guest, most especially his concern about regional security, Nigerian security and the issues of Boko Haram, oil theft, illegal fishing and the dumping of toxins in the waters as well as oil pollution.

He said: “His concern about regional security made it imperative for him to organise a summit on maritime security and development in November, to examine some of these issues. “As for Nigeria, we are grateful for the sympathy and the goodwill expressed, touching on the performance of our armed forces and law enforcement agencies, since this administration came into being.

It is not easy trying to fight on so many fronts; the North East, the South-South and then trying to provide infrastructure in our country. “Since the cooperation of the regional countries, comprising Cameroun, Chad, Niger and Benin Republic, we have identified our problems and achieved positive results in terms of isolation of Boko Haram and giving peace a chance.”

Buhari noted that on bilateral cooperation, “the two countries are trying to see how we can work closer together to achieve sustainable development in the countries and on the continent. “The most important thing is that we have identified our problems.

The first thing is security, we must secure our region, otherwise sustainable development will be impossible. You have just heard him say how much is lost to piracy and Nigeria cannot afford to lose that. “So there is need for cooperation among the African countries.

We will continue to discuss and do our best to resolve regional issues. The most important thing is that we must pay attention to agriculture and manufacturing so that everybody can be employed and then we will have much less problems.”

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