…. build a formidable standing force for the sub- region – By Correspondent Chinyere Ogbonna – African leaders have been advised to intensify their campaign against corruption in the region.
The President of Ivory Coast, Mr. Alassane Ouatarra, gave the challenge at an inaugural lecture entitled, ‘Securing the West African Sub-region: An Assessment of the ECOWAS as a Security Instrument’ for participants of Course 21 of the National Defence College in Abuja the Nigerian capital on Friday.
Mr. Ouattarra, who is also Chairman of the Economic Commission for West African States, ECOWAS, urged other African Heads of States in the sub region to focus on the qualitative training of the military.
He said it was important for African countries to train their armed forces and prepare them to assume greater responsibilities in a democratic dispensation.
The Ivorien President said that if the issue of corruption was not effectively tackled, it would be difficult to achieve the objective of what he described as a well-trained military and good governance.
President Ouattarra recalled that a major aspect of democratic governance was the strict adherence to constitutional governance and sanctity of human rights.
He said that military personnel in any West African country must be trained and made to understand that their collective responsibility was to protect the entire nation, rather than concentrate on only the
government in power.
The ECOWAS Chairman advised governments in the ECOWAS sub-region to consider possible reforms of the regional body in order to improve its role as security instrument
President Quattarra noted that the ECOWAS sub-region should be able to back its decisions with effective use of force, “A major part of this training must deal with the issue of corruption. We cannot have professional military, let alone good governance, if the fabric of a nation is destroyed by corrupt practices.
“We must also ensure that the armed and security forces that we train and equip are focused on their major goal of preserving and enhancing national security, other than to provide security for the government in power.
“While the Nigerian armed forces remain the backbone and vanguard of ECOWAS security, we must move to broaden this responsibility so that each of our countries makes its contribution to an effective fighting force in the sub region.
“As part of our contribution to the African Union Force, we should seriously consider making our West African Brigade a standing army composed of national units than can respond quickly in time of crises and of a rapid reaction force which will be fully dedicated to the ECOWAS standing force.”