By Uche Bibilari
The Prime Minister of Republic of Niger, Mr Brigi Rafini said the Lake Chad Governors’ forum would ensure regional appropriation to eradicate insurgency in the various regions.
Rafini said this at the opening ceremony of the 2nd Meeting of the Lake Chad Basin Governors’ forum in Naimey.
He said that the formation of the the governors’ forum was a crucial turning point in the fight against insurgency, adding that they should continue to build on the achievements so far recorded.
He said that the forum was a new approach toward ensuring stability and development of the Lake Chad region.
The prime minister disclosed that Niger had deployed 2,000 troops to fight insurgency, adding that every military action should follow development.
He called on stakeholders to participate equally to ensure the stability, peace and sustainable development in the regions.
Earlier, Mrs Ahunna Eziakonw, the Assistant Secretary General and UN Development Programme (UNDP), Regional Director, Regional Bureau for African said the forum was a continuation of collective efforts to address a 3-tiered crisis.
She said that the crisis included structural and persistent development deficit across parts of the region, a breakdown of the social contract that has fostered localised violent extremist insurgency and an unfolding environmental catastrophe.
“While affected by the same crisis, we are cognisant that the situation differs among countries in the Lake Chad Basin and that our offer has to be harmonised yet differentiated.
“National responses must be complemented by cross-border interventions and regional collaboration.
“The Boko Haram insurgency in North East Nigeria and neighbouring countries of Cameroon, Chad and Niger has resulted in displacements, destructions of basic infrastructure, and environmental degradation on the Lake, severely impacting communities across the region.
“The conflicts have eroded, and in some cases ruptured, the bonds and relationships within groups and communities, with the poor bearing the greatest brunt.
“Extremists target public spaces, forcing people to make difficult choices between risking death by going to work to earn a meagre living, or risking the very survival of their families.
“Nowhere is this more evident than in the Lake Chad Basin with over 2.8 million people displaced across four countries,” she stated.
She added that the eight regions of the basin which have served as a home to 19 million people was an important focus to UNDP.
She said that the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) which had the mandate to facilitate the mechanisms of cross-border cooperation on security, stabilisation, early recovery and development, was an invaluable partner to UNDP and the UN system.
“Its regional mandate provides important avenues to holistically address the daunting problems facing Boko Haram affected areas.
“The LCBC, with support from the African Union and UNDP, has developed a comprehensive Regional Stabilisation Strategy that is a demonstration of national, regional and continental ownership and leadership that deserves to be supported.
“With support of our development partners including the Governments of Germany and Sweden, UNDP is spearheading interventions on stabilisation across the four LCBC countries,” she said.
Interventions make possible a critical injection of integrated services in needy areas, focusing on strengthening the social contract, increased access to basic services and livelihood revitalisation.
“As we focus on stabilisation of the region, UNDP’s contribution is also preparing the ground for longer term transformation and sustainability by working with the LCBC, national governments and other partners,” she said.
Executive Secretary, LCBC, Amb. Mamman Nuhu and Head of Mission, Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) said that the role of governors which are drivers of policies and initiatives at the grassroot level as well as ensuring stabilities and resolution of conflicts in the areas cannot be over emphasised.
He, however said that the forum would address issues which exist in the LCBC organisational structure.
He said that the structure of the LCBC are made up of the head of States and government, councils of ministers as the decisional arm of the commission absenting governors who drive development at the grassroot.
He said their was need to carry this governors along in the decision making process.
Nuhu said that the forum was a crucial meeting which would lead to the implementation of the Regional Stabilisation Strategy for the eight affected regions.
He said that for the attainment of the objectives of the forum a strong synergy was required.
Representative of Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Amb.Hadiza Mustapha commended the effort of the MNJTF in fighting terrorism and successes recorded by the military.
She said that the Regional Stabilisation Strategy (RSS) was the key in tacking the root causes of terrorism and criminalities in our societies.
She said that the forum has continued to gain acceptance as an effective and innovative way to implement the strategy in the lake chad regions.
She said that AU would continue to work with the LCBC and other stakeholders to silence the gun in 2020. (NAN)