ECOWAS defence chiefs meet on $2.6b budget for activation of regional standby force

The Defence chiefs of countries in Economic Community of West African Countries (ECOWAS) on Thursday, converged in Abuja to deliberate on the proposed $2.607 billion budget for the activation of the subregion standby force. 

The standby force is meant to contain terrorism and unconstitutional change of government with the region planning to raise a 5,000 standby force.

The region, alternatively proposed a budget of $481,459, 335 for 1,650 standby force, with the meeting organised to decide which plan to be implemented.

Nigeria’s Minister of Defence, Mohammed Badaru Abubakar disclosed this at the opening of the meeting of the region's Minister of Defence and Finance on modalities for financing and equipping the deployment of ECOWAS counter-terrorism force. 

The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Omar Alliou Touray said the move has become necessary as the region has become the epicentre of terrorism.

Speaking on the meeting, Nigeria’s Defence Minister said the gathering is driven by the urgent need to consider the financing

options in the memorandum to be presented by the ECOWAS Commission for deploying the proposed regional force.

He lamented that the region is threatened by insecurity and grave humanitarian challenges.

The Minister said the standby force arrangement has the backing of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and


He said: "Our gathering here today is driven by the urgent need to consider the financing

options in the memorandum to be presented by the ECOWAS Commission for deploying the proposed regional force.

“The financial implications of these proposals are significant.

"The overall estimated cost is $2,606,695,640 per year for a brigade of

5,000 men.The alternative proposal is for a brigade of 1,650 men, with an estimated annual cost of $481,459,335.These figures

underscore the gravity of the task before us and the necessity of a robust and sustainable resource mobilization strategy.

“lt is therefore imperative that we critically review the options considering.”

The Minister while explaining the current security situation in the region, said: "As you are all aware, our region is threatened by insecurity and grave humanitarian challenges. Terrorism and violent extremism have continued to threaten our collective existence.The cross-border free movement and activities of terrorist groups in the sub-region is deepening our internal security challenges. 

"To address these challenges,the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and

Government at its 62nd Ordinary Session held in Abuja, on 4th December 2022 instructed the Committee of Chiefs of Defence Staff to urgently study and propose the options, modalities, financial and technical means for the urgent operationalisation of the ECOWAS Standby Force, including a special kinetic operations to combat terrorism.

"As part of the implementation of these decisions,the Committee of Chiefs of Defence Staff met twice to deliberate and

come up with recommendations,which was subsequently presented to the 50th meeting of the Mediation and Security Council,at the

Ministerial level on 5h July 2023 in Bissau.

“I am delighted to welcome you all to Abuja for this crucial meeting of the Ministers of Finance and Defence, to deliberate on the modalities for financing and equipping the deployment of the ECOWAS counter-terrorism force.

On his part, Touray decried the damages caused to the region by terrorism, which include the large scale of Internally Displaced Persons, loss of territories and others. 


He noted that: “A huge humanitarian crisis with millions of internally displaced persons and refugees.

“You will all recall that some member states have lost control of important parts of their territories to terrorist groups. 

“According to the 2024 Global Terrorism Index, the epicentre of terrorism has shifted from the Middle East and North Africa into the sub-Saharan African region largely in the Sahel region.

“ The Sahel is the most affected region within the Sahara, accounting for over half of all deaths from terrorism and 26% of attacks in 2023.

“ Some of our member states have become countries with the highest impact from terrorism for the first time, with fatalities increasing by 68%. with fatalities increasing by six.

“ A quarter of all deaths from terrorist attacks occurring globally were in Burkina Faso, while Mali is ranked number three most impacted country. 

“Taking due consideration of the transborder nature of the menace and the need to address it collectively and in line with the directive by the Authority on Peace and Security Matters, I would like to inform this August body that the invitation to this meeting was extended to all the 15 ECOWAS member states. 

“All 15 ECOWAS member states have been invited to take part in this important meeting. And the reason is certainly the authorization and the approval given to the Commission's proposal to this effect sometime in the future.

“ In the past, it was believed that we cannot fight terrorism alone or while others are not participating. 

“That is why the Commission proposed to the Authority, through of course the Council of Ministers, that although countries might be under suspension, they should be allowed to take part in meetings relating to security as well as in sectoral matters. 

“That is why we have invited all 15 member states to attend this important and crucial meeting. Honourable Ministers, we have an urgent task to mobilize the financial resources to fund our Regional Action Plan against terrorism. 

“Therefore, in preparing for this very important meeting, The Commission has made available two documents to facilitate your deliberations. 

“The first document is the report of the Committee of Chiefs of Defense Staff, containing their proposal towards the mobilization of the kinetic force to fight terrorism, which includes the logistics, personnel, and financial requirements of raising the force.

“ As for the agenda of this meeting, their proposal will be presented to you by the Chair of the Committee of Chiefs of Defense Staff. 

“The Commission will present the second document, which is a memorandum proposing modalities for the mobilization of internal, financial, human, and material resources on a mandatory basis to support the deployment, and the development of the regional counterterrorism force as defined by the Committee of Chiefs of Defense Staff. 

“Honourable Ministers, more than ever, we are at a pivotal moment in the history of our community to address insecurity and establish a more secure environment for economic growth and development of our community.”

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