Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the National Early Warning and Response Mechanism.
Mr Laolu Akande, Senior Special Assistant (Media) to the Vice President, disclosed this in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja.
According to the statement, the Vice President signed for Nigeria while President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Brou, signed on behalf of the regional body on Tuesday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The MoU consolidated discussions by the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government at its 45th Ordinary Session in Accra, Ghana, in July 2014, which endorsed the establishment of National Early Warning and Response Mechanism in member states.
Osinbajo said that the threats confronting Nigeria and the rest of West Africa were becoming more violent, asymmetric, cross-border by nature and spreading faster than before.
He said the threats had necessitated the need for effective sub-regional collaboration on early warning systems.
“I don’t think there is a better time for this process than now, which will lead to full implementation of the Early Warning and Response System.
“We are at a time nationally, and sub-regionally, where the security threats that confront us are becoming more violent, they are asymmetric, spread faster than before, and they are cross border in their nature.
“There is no question at all that this is a moment when we really should be looking at how to collaborate in real-time and in increasingly more imaginative ways in sharing information, and also in sharing competence in order to confront our security challenges,’’ Osinbajo was quoted as saying.
He commended the regional body for its foresight in the design of the regional warning system.
According to him, the clear expansion of the ECOWAS early warning and response network to include terrorism indicators is very important.
“I think this has helped a great deal in not only focusing on terrorism, which is today possibly the most lethal threat that we face, but also in giving us an opportunity as a sub-region.
“This is to bring the very best possible ideas and to be able to check these threats as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
“The administration will ensure that the early warning and response system is implemented and we look forward to working with you ECOWAS in ensuring that it is fully implemented,” he said.
In his remarks, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Amb. Zubairu Dada said the signing of the MoU was a consolidation of discussions held at different levels by ECOWAS leaders to find ways of containing threats to security in the sub-region.
Also in his remarks, the president of ECOWAS Commission Brou said the signing of the MoU reiterated Nigeria’s commitment to promoting peace and security in West Africa.
He said that the regional early warning mechanism was set up by the ECOWAS 1999 protocol for conflict prevention, management, resolution, peacekeeping and security.
He said that it was also to support the region in anticipating, mitigating and responding to challenges of human security.
“In order to support member states in strengthening their capacity in preventing human security challenges, the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government in 2014 signed a supplementary Act.
“Adopting the policy framework on the establishment of national early warnings, and rapid response mechanism,” he said.
Brou commended the vice president’s leadership and support and appealed to Nigeria to sign an Executive Order to give legal backing to the planned National Centre for Early Warning and Response System.
The statement said senior government officials present at the ceremony included the Ministers of Defence, Maj.- Gen. Bashir Magashi (retired), Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, Finance, Budget and National Planning, Hajia Zainab Ahmed.
Others were the Ministers of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajia Sadiya Farouq, Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen and National Security Adviser, Maj.- Gen. Babagana Monguno (retired), among others.