President Muhammadu Buhari has appealed to African Union (AU) member countries to strengthen early warning systems to address conflicts in the region.
This appeal was contained in a statement issued on Sunday in Abuja by the president’s spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu.
Shehu said that the president made the remarks at the ongoing 36th AU Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The Summit convened under the theme, “Acceleration of the African Continent Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Implementation provided a key opportunity for the Nigerian delegation, led by President Buhari, to emphasize that it had fully embraced the spirit of the AfCFTA, having signed, ratified and deposited the instrument at the African Union Commission, the statement said.
In this light, Buhari urged all member states, AUC, and the Secretariat of AfCFTA to continue supporting the implementation of the AfCFTA agreement.
He also called on member states that had not yet ratified the Agreement to do so.
At the High-Level side event on “Early Warning Within the Framework of the African Union Peace and Security Council and the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services in Africa (CISSA),” Buhari noted that timely information sharing was vital to successful early warning and response processes.
The event was hosted by President Teodoro Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea.
The president was represented by the National Security Adviser (NSA), retired Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno, at the event.
Buhari, who was represented at the event because he was engaged in another meeting, which considered Reports by African Leaders on specific thematic issues at the Summit, warned that:
“When member states deny credible early warning signals of impending crisis, they miss opportunities to address conflict situations before they escalate.”
He, therefore, urged member states to cooperate more with the African Union Commission (AUC), Regional Economic Communities (RECs), Regional Mechanisms (RMs), and other relevant partners.
“We also call on Member States to embrace the Continental Structural Conflict Prevention Framework (CSCPF) and its tools, the Country Structural Vulnerability and Resilience Assessment (CSVRA) and the Country Structural Vulnerability Mitigation Strategies (CSVMS).
“Our continent has contended with various issues of insecurity, including terrorism, violent extremism, and unconstitutional changes of Government, among others.
“These issues have been discussed severally at various High-Level meetings, particularly at the May 2022 Extraordinary Session of the Assembly held in Malabo indicating the importance attached to this worrisome trend.
“Nigeria acknowledges the work of the AU, RECs, RMs in strengthening Continental Early Warning Systems (CEWS),” he said.
The Nigerian leader also lauded the AU security and intelligence organs like CISSA, African Union Mechanism for Police Cooperation (AFRIPOL), and Africa Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism (ACSRT) for providing timely warnings on emerging threats.
“We reiterate the decision of the 35th Session of the Assembly in February 2022 directing the AUC to establish a monitoring and oversight committee to ensure successful early warning and response systems in Africa, and also call for enhanced horizon scanning briefings.
“In addition, the AUC must develop a holistic approach to peace and security which encompasses the major drivers of conflict on the continent,” he said.