Germany to help ECOWAS fight Boko Haram militants

Pres 2GERMAN Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has hinted that the European Union (EU) is ready to provide sustainable financial and logistical support to the African Union (AU) towards the establishment of the proposed regional force to counter the threat posed by Boko Haram.

She welcomed the proposal put forward by the ECOWAS Chairman, President John Mahama, about the establishment of a joint force to fight the Islamist insurgents operating in Northern Nigeria.

Addressing a joint news conference with President John Mahama at the Federal Chancellery in Berlin yesterday, following private talks that aimed at boosting bilateral relations between Ghana and Germany, Chancellor Merkel, stressed that Europe was deeply worried about the escalation of the violent terrorist activities of Boko Haram rampage in Nigeria, which had left thousands dead.

Just as it would condemn and support action against terrorist acts in any part of the world, the German Chancellor dismissed the notion that Europe had turned a blind eye on what was going on in Nigeria.

She pointed out that supporting anti-terrorism in Nigeria would require a green light from that country’s government.

A special motion on terrorism is expected to be tabled at the 24th AU Session in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia next week, where the issue of sending in a multi-national force comprising AU member countries would be discussed.

Boko Haram Islamist militants have been battling Nigerian and Cameroonian forces, which are bent on halting the incessant attacks on villages and killing of innocent civilians. The insurgents have resorted to suicide bombings in their bid to establish a caliphate in Northern Nigeria.

Like any terrorist act, their activities have sparked condemnation and protests world-wide but there are some who feel that the West was not giving enough attention and support to stop what is going on in Nigeria, which has relatively recorded more casualties.

Chancellor Merkel noted that West Africa was faced with security and health challenges such as the Ebola crisis and it was necessary to give a helping hand to enable the sub-region to overcome them.

She described Ghana as a stable African country whose pedigree in peacekeeping was acknowledged world-wide, and, therefore, needed to be supported economic and security wise.

The German Chancellor noted that Ghana’s economic growth rate was at five per-cent and it was important that Germany became its development partner, especially, supporting the renewable energy sector to help Ghana overcome its electricity supply problems, and also the area of vocational/technical education.

She said the issue of a trade pact between ECOWAS and the EU also engaged their attention during the closed door session and expressed the hope that West African countries would sign unto the Economic Partnership Agreements with the EU soon.

On his part, President Mahama said African countries had the capacity to confront the threat posed by Boko Haram but it would require financial assistance from development partners including the EU.

He stressed the need to deal holistically with the growing threat posed by terrorism in order that the phenomenon did not become like a cancer.

It was refreshing, he noted, that Chad had moved troops to support Cameroun to fight Boko Haram but added that terrorism affects the whole world and has the tendency to spread so it required an ‘all hands on deck approach’.

President Mahama said that the ECOWAS would push for the establishment of the proposed multi-national force at the up-coming summit in Addis Ababa and hoped that the move would garner the required support.

He announced that Ghana had agreed to join Germany and Norway in a UN-sponsored international crisis response project involving the health systems.

He explained that the project would enable the world to put in systems, and to deal swiftly with crisis like the Ebola Virus Disease whenever it occurs, before it escalates into global proportions.

The President expressed appreciation to Germany for helping West Africa fight the Ebola disease “without which we would have seen a catastrophe and a humanitarian crisis in Africa”.

President Mahama lauded the support offered Ghana by Germany over the years, disclosing that the Germany had contributed a total of 1.6 billion Euros towards Ghana’s development since 1961.

He said the two countries have many things in common and shared similar values like democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law.

Currently, he said Ghana and Germany, through the KFW, were working on a renewable project to extend Ghana’s power transmission grid.

President Mahama said Germany had agreed to offer technical assistance in developing Ghana’s vocational and technical education sector, which was crucial to supporting its status as a lower middle income country moving to middle income status.

“We also want to expand our collaboration in cultural exchanges and in sports,” he said, recalling that any time Ghana played Germany, quality football was dished out. It was, therefore, necessary for the two national teams to cooperate.

President Mahama said he looked forward to Germany’s presidency of the Group of Seven developed nations (G7), and hoped that it would create equal opportunities for Africa and the rest of the world, especially, when it came to responding to international crisis.

Early on, President Mahama met with the German President, Joachim Gauck, at the Presidential Palace, at which the two leaders discussed issues of mutual interest between Ghana and Germany.

President Mahama also held separate meetings with the former Federal President, Professor Dr. Horst Kohler and the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Dr. Gerd Muller. From

Samuel Nuamah, Berlin, Germany.

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