The federal government is committing $80 million to the fight against terrorism and banditry in the northern part of the country this year, President Muhmmadu Buhari announced on Saturday.

Buhari spoke during the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Authority of Heads of State and Government virtual Summit.

The President, whose speech was read by Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyema, expressed worries over the spate of terrorissm in some countries of the region, emphasizing the need for the countries to work together with a view to stamping out the menace.

The President also said a total of $20 million already been contributed to the ECOWAS pool for security action plan to execute the war against terrorism in the region.

The region, according to him “ needs to commence immediate implementation of ECOWAS Action Plan on the fight against terrorism.”

He urged member states to pay their voluntary contribution into the fund dedicated to the implementation of the 2020/2024 Action plan.

He added: ”We have already directed the immediate remittance of the sum of $20 million pledged by Nigeria to the pool account of the ECOWAS Action Plan to fight terrorism while the sum of $80 million is to be disbursed for the fight against terrorism in the Northeast and banditry in the Northwest of Nigeria for the year 2020.”

Speaking on the global health challenge, he charged West African countries to prioritize and acquisition and local manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines for citizens of the region.

He challenged the ECOWAS Commission to work with the West African Health Organisation (WAHO), to see to the acquisition of the vaccine, its storage and effective distribution among member states.

He lamented that the effect of the pandemic on the economies of countries within the region had been seriously affected, which he said would in turn affect the economic fortunes of the organization, hence the need for ECOWAS to readjust its priorities.

His words: ”The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is ravaging the ECOWAS region. ”Now that vaccines are soon to be available, I call on all member states to ensure that we prioritize the acquisition of the vaccines for our citizens while at the same time increasing efforts to develop our own vaccines so that we can build hard immunities against the COVID-19 pandemic in West Africa.

“We urge the ECOWAS Commission to work with WAHO, the West African Health Organisation to assist member states in acquiring the vaccines and provide facilities to store and distribute the vaccines within the region.

“Efforts should also be accelerated for the region to start producing rapid diagnostic test kits of international standards to be made available to all member states. It is important for the region to evolve effective measures and avoid total lockdown at this critical time that our economies are gradually recovering from the first wave of the pandemic.”

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