The Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has entreated businesses in the West African sub-region to invest in peace- building initiatives to complement efforts by governments to ensure sustainable peace in the region.
According to him, there was the need for the business community to make budgetary provisions for such an investment to create a conducive atmosphere for their businesses to thrive.
“The business community is a major beneficiary of peace but it does not support the efforts of civil society organisations (CSOs) in peace-building. Businesses should consider sustained investments in peace and security through professional CSOs like WANEP,” he said.
Dr Bawumia was speaking at the 20th anniversary of the West Africa Network for Peace-building (WANEP) in Accra yesterday on the theme: “Twenty years of peace-building practice in West Africa”.
The anniversary attracted dignitaries such as the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel, Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambers, and a former Prime Minister of Burkina Faso, Mr Desire Kadre Ouedraogo.
Others were the ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, General Francis Behanzin; Ghana’s Minister of the Interior, Mr Ambrose Dery, and the Chief of the Defence Staff, Lieutenant General Obed Akwa.
The Veep also advised CSOs to cooperate and collaborate among themselves to avoid “unnecessary duplication of work in the peace-building sector”.
Such collaborations, he said, must be extended to governments and regional bodies such as ECOWAS in order to make West Africa and Africa at large an oasis of peace in the world.
“As noted, West Africa’s democratic and security environment is increasingly becoming unstable and it is obvious that the state alone cannot address the myriads of security challenges, hence the need for partnerships between CSOs and governments,” he said.
Dr Bawumia further advised CSOs to explore funding from internal sources, instead of always relying on external donors.
He called on ECOWAS to set aside funds to sponsor the activities of CSOs to influence and lead positive change in West Africa.
For his part, Dr Chambas said the role of WANEP and other CSOs in nation-building could not be underestimated owing to their invaluable contribution to peace and security in the sub-region.
He called on the organisation not to rest on its laurels but rather work hard to help the continent tackle security challenges such as electoral disputes, terrorism and communal conflicts.
The Executive Director of WANEP, Dr Chukwuemeka Eze, said the organisation would continue to advocate and implement peace initiatives to ensure stability in West Africa and on the entire continent.
WANEP was founded in 1998 by Dr Emmanuel Bombande of Ghana and Dr Samuel Gbaydee Doe of Liberia to help resolve the conflicts and civil wars that plagued West Africa in the 1990s.
It has its West Africa regional office in Accra and networks in all ECOWAS member states, with over 500 affiliate organisations in the sub-region.
WANEP develops early warning and response mechanisms and engages in peace dialogues, mediation and capacity building.