Since the 1990s, increasing instability in the Sahel and Sahara has been a source of growing concern. While armed insurgency and terrorism, remains the biggest threat to states’ security, new threats have appeared in the region in the form of demography, poor governance, irregular migration, environmental deterioration and political and economic challenges.
The fragility of the Sahel-Sahara has instructed a strengthened and more coherent regional action,prompting the member states to forge, networks and collaborations that will address the issues of insecurity and climate change, and in the process build peaceful and inclusive societies.It may be recalled that the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD), is a sub-regional organisation of 29 member countries mostly in the Sahel Region of Africa, was established in 1998, with a mission to enhance cooperation among member states, strengthen peace, security and stability in the region and achieve global economic and social development. The sub region, makes up an estimated area that exceeds half of the African continent and is impacted by adverse conditions of the Sahara desert.
In order to achieve its long standing objectives, member countries of the Community of Sahel-Saharan States CEN-SAD converged in Abuja, recently, for the 7th meeting of Defence Ministers of the member states with the Theme“Consolidating the Achievements of the Fight against Terrorism through Solidarity Development Actions”.
Speakers at the conference were of the shared opinion that for efforts of governments of the sub region, in countering threats of terrorism and armed violence to make real headway, the region’s governments must heed the demand for development actions that will better manage African economies and political rights.
In his opening remarks, the chief host of the event, President Muhammadu Buhari (Nigeria), who was represented by the Vice President,Prof. Osinbajo said “If there is one thing we have learned from our experience fighting Boko Haram in Nigeria, it is that the battle is as much social and economic, as it is a military one.”
The host Defence Minister, Mansur Muhammad Dan-Ali (Nigeria), remarked that:
“the tactical and operational successes attained cannot be sustained or consolidated without development of social-economic areas of human endeavours that will positively impact on the life of the CEN-SAD citizens.”
Ultimately, given the mission and vision of the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD), to engage in dialogue and action that respond to the prevailing stability challenges in the Sahel-Sahara, citizens of member countries can intently look forward to a more stable Sahel-Sahara region.