By Isaac Aregbesola
The Federal Government has urged countries in Lake Chad Basin Region to establish an enduring network and synergy, to stem proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) in the region.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, made the call at a Two-Day multilateral meeting with stakeholders of the Lake Chad Basin Region on Thursday in Abuja.
The meeting with the theme “Cubing Proliferation of SALW in the Lake Chad Basin Region” was organised by National Centre for the Control of SALW, Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA)
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that representatives of the three other countries of Lake Chad Basin Region including Cameroon, Niger and Chad attended the meeting.
Mustapha said Nigeria along with other Lake Chad Basin countries, should take advantage of the epic meeting to address the menace of SALW in the region.
“The proliferation of small arms in the lake Chad Basin is a major security concern that has far-reaching consequences for the region.
“It has contributed to the escalation of conflict and violence and has impeded the economic and social development of the countries in the region.
“Small arms are slowly becoming weapons of mass destruction. Their widespread availability has caused tremendous harm to communities and individuals, especially women and children.
“It is, therefore, imperative that we work together to curb the proliferation of small arms in the Lake Chad Basin region.
“If we must put an end to the senseless and mindless violence of Boko Haram and other violence mongers that are widespread in the region,” he said.
He stressed the need to work together to implement the existing international and regional agreements, on small arms control and to promote the development and implementation of new ones.
“We also need to engage in dialogue and cooperation to increase public awareness and to mobilise resources for small arms control initiatives,” he said.
The National Security Adviser (NSA), retired Maj.-Gen. Babagana Mongonu, expressed concern on the devastating effects of the illicit circulation of small arms and light weapons.
He said that the availability of these weapons fuels conflicts, exacerbates violence, and undermines peace and security in our region.
“We must take decisive action to address this menace and protect the lives and livelihoods of our citizens.
“This meeting provides us with opportunity to collaborate and share experiences and strategize towards curbing the proliferation of small arms and light weapons.”
He said that Nigeria was absolutely committed to playing its part in the efforts to tackle SALW proliferation in the Region.
Mongonu said that Nigeria had taken steps to enhance its national firearms control regime, including the establishment of a National Centre for the Control of SALW, and the signing of the ECOWAS Convention on SALW.
“ However, we recognise that this is not a problem that any one country can solve alone.
“We must work together as a region to address the root causes of this problem including poverty, underdevelopment and poor governance.
“We must also strengthen our border control measures to prevent the illicit flow of small arms and light weapons across our borders.
“Let us use this opportunity to build strong partnerships and develop practical solutions that will make a real difference in the lives of our citizens,” he said.
The National Coordinator of the National Centre for the Control of SALW, retired Maj.-Gen Abba Mohammed , decried the effect of the proliferation of SALW in the region.
According to him, the prevalent insecurity in the region has led to the loss of countless lives, displacement of communities and hindered the socio-economic development of the region.
“It behooves on us to take drastic measures to find lasting solutions that will help to reduce and eradicate the proliferation of SALW.
“It is therefore imperative that we come together as stakeholders from different sectors and nations to discuss this pressing issue and devise sustainable and pragmatic solutions to address it,”.
Mohammed said the meeting presents an exceptional prospect for stakeholders to rub minds, share experiences, adopt best international practices and laudable ideas to tackle the attendant threat caused by the proliferation of SALW.
“It also provides a forum for us to build new partnerships and strengthen already existing collaborations towards achieving our common goal.
“ I will not fail to reiterate the fact that this feat of eradicating illicit SALW in our society will be a protracted one, and would be an effort in futility without international collaboration,” he said(NAN)