President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the African Union (AU) cannot afford to allow armed conflicts to continue on the continent.
Buhari said this at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Sunday at the conclusion of the 26th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government.
He told fellow African leaders that it was high time the AU’s vision to silence the guns and reduce preventable conflict-related deaths on the continent by 2020 was realized.
He regretted that rather than face developmental challenges confronting Africa, the continent was using its scarce resources on armed conflicts.
He urged the leaders to forge a united front with a view to eliminating terrorism and focusing on the noble goals of Agenda 2063, as espoused by the African Union.
He said: “We have all shed blood for Africa to be free, but the irony is that today, we are now killing each other. Rather than facing the developmental challenges confronting us, we are spending our scarce resources killing our children and inflicting unspeakable horrors and unimaginable hardship on our brothers and sisters.
“That is truly a tragedy and it must stop. Enough is Enough! Within the framework of the African Union, we have to, as a matter of urgency, reach a consensus on how to silence the guns. Not by 2020, but now. Why must we wait? We must say ‘NO’ to wars and conflicts on our continent”.
Buhari specifically urged the AU leaders to engage decisively with the people and governments of South Sudan and Burundi in order to quickly end the conflicts in both countries.
Assuring of his administration’s determination to defeat terrorism and end the war against the Boko Haram insurgency, he said through the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), Nigeria would continue to partner with other member states of the Lake Chad Basin Commission and Benin Republic.
Buhari also reaffirmed that having released $21m to MNJTF last June, Nigeria would soon fully redeem her pledge of $100m to enhance the operations of the force.
Reiteraring Nigeria’s commitment to Africa’s unity, peace and prosperity, the president said: We in Nigeria have always been attached to the idea of African unity. During the struggle to win freedom for our brothers and sisters in Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe, Nigeria was considered a front-line State although we were not geographically on the frontline. This was because we took to heart the words of President Ben Bella of Algeria that we all had to die a little for all our brothers and sisters on the continent”.
Earlier while fielding questions from journalists in Addis Ababa, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon said the UN’s partnership with the AU on conflict prevention and resolution as well as countering violent extremism was critical.