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ACCRA PEACE AND SECURITY FORUM: LET’S FIGHT TERRORISM BY GIVING OUR YOUNG PEOPLE EDUCATION AND JOBS, SAYS AKUFO-ADDO

General News

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has warned that even though Ghana is enjoying peace and stability, it cannot be immune from terror attacks.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has warned that even though Ghana is enjoying peace and stability, it cannot be immune from terror attacks.

 

“Over the years, we have learned, most often through bitter experience, that terrorism and violent extremism are not restricted to particular geographic locations or jurisdictions, as the impact of a single terrorist incident in one part of the world resonates throughout the world,” the President said yesterday.

He was speaking at the maiden edition of the Kofi Annan Peace and Security Forum at the Kempinski Hotel in Accra.

In recent years West Africa has become a hotbed of terrorist and extremist activities, the President said, through the activism of groups operating in north-eastern Nigeria, the Lake Chad Basin, Mali and the wider Sahel region.

Focus on education

President Akufo-Addo said the fight against terrorism and violent extremism cannot be limited to military means, vital as they are.

“Broader policies must also be put in place to create opportunities and jobs for our youth if we are to deal successfully with their root causes,” he said.

He urged African leaders to prioritise access to education for Africa’s youth as a way of combating terrorism and violent extremism.

“We are told that 89 million young Africans of school-going age are not in school. That has to stop and stop now.
“In Ghana, at great cost, we have since my assumption of office in January 2017 instituted a system of free secondary education which has increased enrolment by nearly 50 per cent.
“From this month, when schools reopen, 1.2 million Ghanaian children will be beneficiaries of the Free Senior High School policy, the highest number of pupils in secondary school in our history,” he said.

Create jobs

President Akufo-Addo also advocated a structural transformation of African economies, which are currently dependent on the production and export of raw materials, to industrialised economies producing value-added goods.

“We must rapidly leave behind the old agrarian economies and embrace the technological and digital potential of the new, modern economies, and, thereby, give opportunities, jobs and hope to our young people to live dignified, productive lives here at home,” he said.

Factors such as poverty and disillusionment among young Africans not only providing fertile breeding ground for those who want to cross the Sahara Desert on foot or the Mediterranean Sea in rickety boats in the hope of finding a better future in Europe, but are also a hothouse for a new generation of terrorists.

“This is most worrying because surrogates of Al-Qaeda in the Sahel and Boko Haram militants operating around the Lake Chad Basin ‒ the two most active terrorist groups in West Africa ‒ are known to exploit the unacceptable levels of poverty in these areas in the recruitment and indoctrination of the youth,” the President said.

Respect for liberty

He called for the promotion of a system and culture of accountable governance, free from corruption, whereby Africans are governed in line with the rule of law, respect for individual liberty and human rights, and principles of democratic accountability.

“Such a system requires building strong institutions of state, such as well-resourced parliaments and judiciaries, efficient law-enforcement agencies, and effective security forces that see their responsibilities and allegiances to the wider public interest, not just to the convenience of the government of the day.
“Innovative, creative mobilisation and disciplined use of public resources are, therefore, of the utmost importance in this struggle for national development. It can be done,” President Akufo-Addo said.

Religious tolerance

The President also pointed out that the growing number of breakaway terror groups, coupled with Africa’s porous internal borders, calls for regional and continental approaches to contain the growing threats of terrorism and extremist activity.

The Ghanaian government is determined to deepen the religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence that exist between the majority Christian and minority Muslim religious groups in the country to meet this challenge, the President said.

Inter-agency

In support of the global call to end terror activities, Ghana has signed and ratified certain international instruments aimed at the prevention and suppression of international terrorism.

President Akufo-Addo said the contents of the instruments will serve as guidelines in formulating Ghana’s counterterrorism policy.

“Ghana has adopted a well-coordinated inter-agency approach which encourages the timely sharing of information and intelligence, operational co-ordination and joint strategy formulation, and has proved essential towards ensuring the efficient execution of the country’s counterterrorism policy,” the President said.