Mahama raises alarm over insecurity in ECOWAS region

John Mahama
John Mahama

Mahama blames the rising insecurity in the ECOWAS region on ideological brainwashing, unemployment and dearth of grazing land, which has been compounded by climate change and calls for urgent actions to tackle the menace

By Anayo Ezugwu

JOHN Dramani Mahama, former President of Ghana has raised alarm over the rising cases of insecurity in the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, region, saying that insecurity is becoming a major problem, especially terrorism in the region.

The former president said the security issue has many causes. Mahama in an exclusive interview with Realnews in Lagos noted that there is a lot of ideological brainwashing going on in the region.

“There is ideological brainwashing where these terrorist groups are actively recruiting young people into their ranks, brainwashing them, using them to achieve the objective of terror they have set for themselves.

“But then this young people are available only because they feel marginalized and there is no hope on the horizon for them. They don’t see themselves as being able to get any meaningful employment to be able to live a dignified life, raise a family, look after their children and so they become easy prey for recruitment into terrorist organizations. There is an angle of it too that is created by climate change and increase in population pressure.

“As you are aware, they said that Lake Chad has reduced to 20 percent of its original size. It means fresh water that used to be available for cattle grazing and all that has reduced. Even the grazing pastures have reduced because population increases, people need more land to farm and as a result there are issues between the pastoralists and the farmers. All those issues are going to exacerbate. They are not going to become better because the rate at which population is growing there will be need for more farmlands.

“So it is a major issue for us and ECOWAS as body when I was president we met and discussed these issues at various levels. We came up with several joint decisions that we needed to undertake. One is intelligence sharing, two is monitoring movement of people within the sub-region, three if you remember the joint military taskforce between Nigeria and her neighbours to be able to fight Boko Haram menace.

“And so there are activities taking place within the countries to see how we can stem the activities of these groups, but it is a major issue. It will probably get worse rather than better. So we better sit up,” he said.

Mahama commended ECOWAS for integrations recorded so far in the region. He noted that ECOWAS has achieved some forward movement in terms of integration. “For instance, when you tell people that for four decades now or more, we are able to travel into each other’s countries without visas, they will find it surprising. When I tell my South African brothers and others that since the 1970s we were able to travel and live 90-day free without visas in each other’s country they find it very surprising.

“That was a good first step that ECOWAS took it needed to be followed with economic integration, but that is what never happened. And it only now with the signing of the continental free trade area that we have signed up to the protocol to implement free trade in terms of creating a customs union and eventually a completely free trade area.

“So I think we have taken a good first step, but it is a paradox that now we have signed the continental free trade area then this border closure has happened. And as I said during the lecture with the xenophobic attacks in South Africa, we need to meet as a continental body and see how we can find solutions to these problems. And see how we can move forward from it.”

– Nov. 30, 2019 @ 15:15 GMT |

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