Heads of State and government in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) plan to meet at an extraordinary summit in the Ghanaian capital, Accra on Friday, following an invitation from President John Dramani Mahama, who is also chairman of the West African regional bloc.
High on the agenda will be discussions about implementing measures to ensure the region’s peace and stability following the abduction of over 200 Nigerian school girls by Boko Haram Islamist militants about five weeks ago, as well as the ongoing violence carried out by the group.
President Mahama recently paid an official visit to Nigeria and expressed the regional bloc’s solidarity and support to help the administration in Abuja to combat the militants. Mahama says the destabilization of Nigeria by the extremists constitutes the destabilization of the entire region.
Ghana’s presidential spokesperson, Ben Dotse Malor says the leaders will also focus on issues that will bolster regional and multilateral cooperation.
“They will have discussions on some issues of mutual and urgent concern, particularly concerning the sub-region of West Africa,” said Malor.
He says Mr. Mahama is committed to peace and security in the region following his recent election as chairman of the ECOWAS authority of heads of state at their last summit in Ivory Coast’s capital, Yamoussoukro. Malor also says the leaders will discuss strengthening economic cooperation among member states in the region.
“Another thing that is very important that President Mahama outlined…is a focus on infrastructural project within the region. For example the Lagos-Accra-Abidjan highway project, which will then facilitate and ease the movement of people and goods across the region, and again we have the West African gas pipeline that is connecting several countries in the region,” said Malor.
Regional intelligence chiefs recently met in Accra to come up with strategies to combat security threats posed by Boko Haram following an invitation of Mahama, according to Malor.
“[They] met here and interacted to take decisions exactly about intelligence sharing, exactly about coordination, exactly about information sharing,” said Malor. “So they can strengthen that ability to share information, share it in a timely manner so that certain situations of insecurity and instability can be prevented, instead of them being dealt with after the fact,” said Malor.
Mahama, Malor says is implementing measures as part of his mandate as head of the regional bloc to ensure peace and stability.
“He is doing what he needs to do under his mandate to bring all these leaders together to find ways of maybe discussing on key things that can be done to strengthen peace and security. To look at infrastructure development project needs of the region and also other matters,” said Malor.