The decision of African leaders to set up a committee that will fashion out a framework for tackling terrorism is a welcome response to the increasing activities of terrorists in different parts of the continent.
The committee, made up of ministers from selected countries, was set up in South Africa during the meeting between President Goodluck Jonathan and his counterparts from South Africa, Ethiopia, Ghana, Congo and Cote d’Ivoire.
The continental approach to terrorism is premised on the fact that no single African country can, on its own, deal with the challenge of terrorism on the continent. The African leaders also recognised that what is needed now is not a country or regional approach, but a continental effort based on the unflinching cooperation of all African states. The committee’s plan of action against insurgency in Africa is to be tabled before the African Union Summit taking place in Equatorial Guinea between June 25 and 26.
We laud the plan of African leaders to design an action plan against terrorism on the continent. The rising terrorist insurgency in Nigeria, Mali, Central African Republic, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan and Libya calls for a continental plan of action to stem the problem.
Africa has had its fair share of socio-economic problems. We have moved from slavery to slave trade, and from colonialism to independence and military dictatorship. Adding terrorism to the multifarious problems already beleaguering the continent will only further compound its woes and retard its development.
Many African countries have fought fratricidal wars and have experienced serious political instability, corruption and bad governance. All these problems, either self-inflicted or resulting from colonial rule, have militated against the socio-economic development of African countries.
For Africa to develop and take its rightful place among the continents, the reactionary forces represented by pockets of insurgency in different parts of the continent today must be arrested, before more harm is done to Africa’s economy. The continent really needs political, cultural and economic discipline to overcome the problems confronting it.
Africa is so rich in both human and material resources that it should not, ordinarily, need external assistance to solve its problems, be they social or economic. What is required is for the leaders of the continent to come up with practical ideas to resolve its problems and propel its development. Africa should not wait for Europe, America or any other continent to come and solve its domestic problems.
It is high time we started asserting ourselves on issues confronting us, be they social, political or economic. Waiting for handouts or instructions from Europe and America before we can solve our existential problems is no longer sensible or feasible. It is time for us to take the bulls by the horns.
It is based on this premise that we believe that the plan for an African approach to taming terrorism is in the right direction. Let us for once show that we are capable of solving our problems. Terrorism is alien to African culture and values, and should be stamped out of the continent. We should do this by reasserting our values and joining forces to confront the monster of insurgency anywhere in Africa. This calls for stronger military ties among all member countries of African Union (AU).
All member nations should, henceforth, design a workable formula for sharing of intelligence, military cooperation and trans-border patrols. This will be of immense help in stemming the tide of terrorism in African countries.
Now that Africa has decided to do something to stop all forms of insurgency confronting its member nations, we caution that the envisaged action plan should be pragmatic. We also warn that it should be more impactful than the existing African Peer Review Mechanism. Let the action plan be effective and not cosmetic. Terrorism is a danger to Africa that must not be treated with kid gloves. It requires brute force to be done away with, and not rhetoric.