Violent extremism, terrorism, biggest threat to ECOWAS subregion —Commandant, Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre


The Commandant, Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC), Maj. Gen. Richard Gyane has described violent extremism and terrorism (VET) as the biggest threat to the ECOWAS subregion, Africa and humanity.

Gyane stated this in Abuja during a chat with journalists during a mobile training course on women, youth, and VET, organized by KAIPTC on Wednesday.

The Commandant said that the security challenges in West Africa had informed KAIPTC’s decision to organize the capacity building for women and youth to build their resilience to tackle terrorism.

He said that the training, organized in collaboration with the Norwegian Government, would empower women and youth with the requisite knowledge about terrorists’ operations and build their resilience against VET threats.

Gyane said: “If you look at our subregion now, violent extremism is a big threat to us; If you look at the Sahel nations, most of these countries are virtually taken over by violent groups.

“If you look at Nigeria and the Boko Haram group, and the movement of these groups southwards, it is worrisome.

“Why are we particular about women and youth? They become vulnerable. These are the most vulnerable groups in our society, who are subject to radicalization by VETs.

“The aim is to engage these women and youth especially and let them understand the issues, the recruitment and all that about these groups who want to destroy our humanity within the subregion,” he said.

He noted that KAIPTC engages and empowers women and youth through its training programs because when people are empowered, it becomes difficult for VET groups, whose aim is to radicalize the people and take over their countries, to do so.

He however noted that no country could tackle VET alone, and stressed the need for collaboration among all stakeholders beyond the security space in order to curb VET’s surging scourge in West Africa and  Africa at large.

Gyane said that, given the porous borders of ECOWAS countries, and the need for them to cooperate and share intelligence, ECOWAS member states should do everything possible to bring on board Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, who are threatening to quit the bloc.

“It is not good for the subregion to have a divided front, and I think whatever we need to do to bring on board these countries, who want to separate themselves from the subregion, is very necessary.

“ECOWAS has done well in certain areas, especially the free movement of persons protocol and I think within the continent of Africa, ECOWAS has done so well.

“But I think we need to collaborate more beyond even the security space. I would want to see us one day using the same currency and all that.

“We should work more as one homogeneous subregion to ensure that people should be free to live and work wherever they are and do business.

“When we do that, it can help us to control violent extremism and terrorism,” Gyane added.

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