Violent extremism has now become a great threat for several countries in West Africa. So far, the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) has struggled to deal with the issue. This struggle is as a result of the nature of the ever-changing security threats in the region.
In spite of the several challenges it faces, ECOWAS continues to find new ways of combating the menace. On 14th September 2019, West African leaders met in the capital of Burkina Faso for a summit with the purpose of reaching a consensus on how to tackle the ever-increasing problem of jihadist violence. The best option they came up with was to mobilize one billion dollars to combat this problem.
A question that arouses from this development is: how different and sustainable is this plan considering the G5 Sahel?
With this, the Africa Centre for Entrepreneurship and Youth Empowerment (ACEYE) has conducted a research which suggests the need for Leaders of the Economic Community of West Africa States to tackle the grievances that fuel jihadism like unemployment rather than concentrating on the effects-of jihadism with the proposed 1billion Dollars.
In dealing with the peril years back, there have been several counterterrorism interventions initiated by the United States of America (USA), Africa Union (AU) and ECOWAS worth millions of Dollars. For example, in 2002, the US introduced the Pan-Sahel Initiative (PSI), to improve the intelligence gathering and boarder security of the Sahelian states. The PSI which was later transformed into a program that combines both military and non-military techniques called the Trans-Saharan Counterterrorism Initiative (TSCTI), Over a period of six years, this initiative received $500 million from the US government to coordinate the economic, political and military engagement between the Sahel-Saharan countries. The TSCTI was later replaced by the African Command (AFRICOM). Despite this progress, this organization was crammed with numerous difficulties which did not allow it to attain its objective of counterterrorism as planned.
The AU is noted to have initiated several counterterrorism programmes such as the AU Constitutive Act of Article 4(o) which underscores the need for the ‘respect of the sanctity of human life, the eradication of acts of terrorism and subversive activities, and the condemnation and rejection of impunity and political assassination’.
Bringing the limelight on ECOWAS, Article 3(d) of its Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution, Peacekeeping and Security Mechanism (ECOWAS, 1999), as well as Article 24 of 2001 Protocol on Good Governance (ECOWAS, 2001) made provisions, among other measures to combat terrorism in West Africa. They also adopted a Counterterrorism Strategy and Implementation Plan in 2013 and established other agencies.