By Ismaila Chafé
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday in Nouakchott, Mauritania, urged leaders to prioritize youth development, with more seriousness and practical ideas to promote skill acquisition, while discouraging idleness.
Femi Adesina, the president’s spokesman, said in a statement that Buhari made the call while speaking at the 2023 African Peace Conference on Tuesday.
According to the Nigerian leader, the idleness of young people and the non-inclusion in the discussion of the issues that shape their lives and the future portend responsibilities for the continent, especially in religious fundamentalism and extremism.
The president, who was distinguished by the Abu Dhabi Peace Forum with the “Prize for Strengthening Peace in Africa”, said that it is necessary to instill values and principles of tolerance and peace in educational institutions and, in particular, among Young.
He said: “African leaders and decision makers must ensure that democratic principles and good governance form the basis for the conduct of affairs in all countries of Africa, noting that peace, security and good governance they are inseparable.
“It is also necessary for African stakeholders, that is, the government, the private sector and civil society organizations, to make concerted efforts to support existing mechanisms and initiatives to build strong and manly institutions.
”These institutions will effectively support good governance that, among other things, leads to the development and progress of our countries and continent.
“African leaders must reaffirm their commitment by demonstrating the necessary political will to take ownership of the African Peace and Security Architecture and in implementing the African Governance Architecture.
“We must also adjust the effectiveness of the early warning and conflict prevention system and adopt policies aimed at resolving the de-radicalization crisis through continuous dialogue and negotiations,” he said.
Buhari pointed out that efforts must be made towards the reduction and possible prevention of the circulation of Small Arms and Light Weapons, as well as the infighting of foreign fighters on the African continent.
The president called for the imperatives of the upcoming African Union Summit to undertake a holistic review of the challenges that continue to fester in Libya with the hope of finding a pragmatic African approach to resolving the instability of more than a decade in Libya.
He added that the challenges have turned Libya into a safe haven for all kinds of weapons and foreign fighters whose profound impacts are seen across all sub-regions and Africa.
The Nigerian leader told the forum that global terrorism, banditry and other transnational crimes continue to pose enormous challenges not only for Africa but also for global peace and security.
According to him, these phenomena have become perennial threats to sustained economic growth and development.
He did, however, reveal that Nigeria and other regional bodies in Africa and the rest of the world had been working assiduously to address these existential threats to the very existence of humanity.
“For us in Nigeria, we continue to engage bilaterally and multilaterally to comprehensively win the war against the Boko Haram insurgency and other related terrorist groups through kinetic and non-kinetic approaches.
“When I came to power in 2015, Boko Haram controlled around two-thirds of Borno State, half of Yobe State and a couple of local government areas in Adamawa State, all in northeast Nigeria.
“We have been able to reclaim these swathes of territory by investing over $1 billion to procure hardware and software weaponry from the US and other friendly nations to conduct sustained counterinsurgency operations since 2015.
“Our Armed Forces and those of our partners in the Multinational Joint Task Force (composed of Chad, Niger, Cameroon, Republic of Benin and Nigeria) continue to show great courage as they pay the ultimate price to secure our collective freedom.
“Despite the difficult times we face, we continue to spend very few and scarce resources to ensure we have a well-equipped military to take on this task.
“Ideally, these are resources that could be spent on education, health care, infrastructure and other social services, but without peace, we have learned the hard way that our children cannot go to school or seek good health care,” he said.
It also revealed that the shrinking of Lake Chad had had dire consequences for people in the region losing their traditional source of livelihood, culminating in the recruitment of young people by terrorist groups seeking livelihoods caused by difficult economic conditions. .
He explained that the scenario created severe instability and served as a litmus test for Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) member countries in devising means to restore livelihoods within the region.
“As a corollary to contain this development, the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) has begun to implement programs to safeguard the ecosystem of the basin, including seeking global support to return the lake to an economic center for which it was known in the past.
“Although we are winning the war, however, as a country and a sub-region, we continue to be negatively affected by events in Libya, the Central African Republic, the Sahel and the war in Ukraine.
“Our region is inundated with all types of small arms and light weapons that continue to circulate freely, orchestrated by the impact of foreign fighters.
“Therefore, we must support peace initiatives to achieve political stability in crisis areas such as Libya, the Central African Republic and other parts of the Sahel region.
“This is to discourage the spread of the insurgency, other criminal groups, as well as foreign weapons and fighters in these places and across the continent,” he said.
President Buhari noted that it was imperative that African countries, through the African Union, renew efforts to find African solutions to Libya’s challenges.
This, he said, has remained highly volatile and unstable, increasing not only the lack of peace and stability in that country, but also development in the Sahel, central and western Africa, as well as the Lake Chad regions.
“Too many outside interests have plagued Libya’s challenges for far too long and have unfortunately aggravated the search for a sustainable resolution.
“This has left our sub-regions much more fragile and a safe haven for all negative influences to regenerate that ultimately remain threats to the peace, stability, development and progress of our regions and the rest of Africa. ”.
The president expressed the hope that the next African Union Summit, next month, will revert to this issue, comprehensively and pragmatically.
According to him, this has become imperative to free the regions and the continent from the cycles of violence, instability, lack of development and progress in the sub-regions of Africa.
He noted that Africa is well endowed with resources that could easily sustain not only the continent, but most of the world.
“It is my hope that President Macky Sall, as Chairman of the African Union, will take up this challenge at the next Summit of the continent, to refocus our attention, to find sustainable indigenous solutions for Libya as, indeed, the entire Peace Architecture. and stability of our continent.
“To conclude my speech, I wish to align myself with the Declarations reached in the two previous series of the Conference,” he said.
Buhari thanked the Abu Dhabi Peace Forum under the tutelage and excellent leadership of Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah, for the honor of nominating him as a recipient of the “African Award for Strengthening Peace”.
“Indeed, it is an acknowledgment that speaks volumes for the ultimate goal of the collective efforts of African leaders to bring about peace and stability as prerequisites for development on our continent.
“This event takes place amid escalating armed conflicts, exacerbated by extremists’ ideology rooted in misinterpretation of religious precepts and, of course, widespread deprivation of citizens in Africa and other parts of the world.
“These sad events, over many decades, have become worrisome and concern all governments and well-meaning organizations, as well as people in sub-Saharan Africa and beyond.
“Realizing the danger that growing insecurity poses to the progress that African countries have made in their political and socio-economic advancement since gaining independence from their colonial masters, it is commendable that the Government of Mauritania, in collaboration with the Forum for the Abu Dhabi Peace, launched the First Edition of the Conference in 2020.
”The inaugural Conference deliberated on: “The role of Islam in Africa: tolerance and moderation against extremism and sectarianism”.
“The theme of the Third edition of the Peace Conference, “Enter all in peace”, still corroborates the persistent scourge of insecurity, with ties inside and outside the region, which demands the imperative of continuous concerted commitments with governments and international partners to improve it. , if not the total eradication”, he also pointed out.
President Buhari paid tribute to Sheikh Abdallah Bin Bayyah’s tireless drive and courage for his initiative to promote peace through the process of combating the ideas of extremists that incubate violence in societies.
“His academic teachings must be given due publicity to counter the terrorists’ narrative that misrepresents Islamic thought,” he said.
He said he was firmly convinced that if leaders could re-engage in the right directions with our strong political will, Africa would be better for it.
Buhari thanked President El-Ghazouni and the Mauritanian government and people for hosting the peace conference.
In his remarks, the president of the Forum for the Promotion of Peace in Muslim Societies, Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah, said that the theme of the 2023 conference was based on the recommendations of the “Nouakchott Declaration” that emerged from the conference. inaugural.
The declaration, which aims to deconstruct the religious basis of extremist discourses and limit violence based on religious arguments, was enshrined as a reference document in the African Vision for Peace at the 33rd African Union Heads of State Summit.
According to Bin Bayyah, the 2023 conference is aimed at strengthening the implementation of the Nouakchott Declaration and increasing its popularization.
“We want to sensitize the African elites, the spiritual elites and the youth, of the absolute priority that should be given to peace, and of the need to implement concrete actions to promote and strengthen it.
“The promotion of peace is the only possible way to guarantee access to prosperity and economic and social development,” he said.
He said that women would be specifically included during the three days of reflection, debate, and development of concrete peacebuilding initiatives.
Welcoming African leaders and scholars to the peace conference, the President of Mauritania congratulated President Buhari on being selected for the award among other African leaders.
He said the award was given to Buhari for providing good leadership and promoting peace in a multi-ethnic, multicultural and multilingual country like Nigeria, and for extending his experience and wisdom to other African countries.
The 2023 African Peace Conference aims to strengthen the implementation of the 2022 Nouakchott Declaration by continuing to address issues of conflict, the misused concepts of Jihad, illegal immigration, girls’ education and the promotion of peace. and the develop. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Vicente Obi