President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday urged Ecowas member states and other Western allies to give countries of the Lake Chad Basin financial support for effective implementation of the Lake Chad Development and Climate Resilience Action Plan, LCDCRAP.
Mr. Buhari said an estimated $916 million euros is required for meaningful implementation of the plan, which, he said, is “crucial to reducing the high poverty rate in the basin, a major factor in the recruitment of terrorists.”
Mr. Buhari’s comments came when he hosted his counterparts from West African countries, as well as the President of France, Francois Hollande, and representatives of United States, United Kingdom, European Union and China for the concluding session of a two-day regional security summit in Abuja.
“Implementing the Lake Chad Development and Climate Resilience Action Plan, which was submitted to donor countries and organization at the Conference of Parties (COP 21) side event on the Lake Chad, therefore, remains a vital challenge,” Mr. Buhari said.
Saturday’s summit, aimed at boosting cooperation between Nigeria, its West African neighbours and other allies to defeat Boko Haram, held two years after a similar one was convened by Mr. Hollande in Paris, and the leaders reviewed the gains recorded in the fight against Boko Haram since then.
Since the first meeting held, “we have defeated Boko Haram and secluded them into a small enclave in Sambisa Forest,” Mr. Buhari said.
Mr. Hollande echoed Mr. Buhari’s position, but added that there wasl a need for greater cooperation amongst stakeholders, promising more cooperation in counter-insurgency, training and equipment as well as intelligence gathering and distribution.
“France will share intelligence, help in counterinsurgency training and provide equipment to countries in fight against Boko Haram,” Mr. Hollande said. “On this issue of Boko Haram, when there is threat to a country in Africa, there is a threat in France.”
Antony Blinken, Deputy U.S. Secretary of State, said the event highlighted Nigeria’s influence as a regional power.
“This is an evidence of the strength of the Nigerian leadership, with the effort that the President and the Vice President are making to strengthen the economy, fight corruption and deal with the security challenges.”
Representatives of European Union, United Kingdom and China also pledged their support towards the final eradication of Boko Haram.
Federica Mogherini, Vice President of the European Commission, said the organisation had concluded plans to contribute an initial €50 million to support the countries ravaged by Boko Haram.
Mr. Buhari called for a focus on key aspects of the recommendations made by different committees set up by Ecowas during the event, saying they needed to identify and address all shortcomings as the war against Boko Haram winds down.
“We must take the opportunity this summit presents to evaluate the successes we have achieved, consolidate the gains, identify any shortcomings we have experienced and then draw important lessons.”
Foreign heads of state present at the summit include: Paul Biya, Cameroon, Faure Gnassingbé, Togo, Patrice Talon, Benin, Macky Sall, Senegal, Teodoro Mbasogo, Equatorial Guinea and Mahamadou Issoufou,Niger, Idriss Déby, Chad and Ali-Bongo Ondimba, Gabon.