The Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations, Ms Amina Mohammed, suggested that one of the ways to remove the engenders of terrorism on the continent is for Africa to work to rebuild its social contract with its citizens, and deliver good governance.

“Rebuilding the social contract is necessary for recovery. We must pay attention to women and girls who are greatly impacted by terrorism, including the youth. Providing support and healing for those impacted by terrorism is important,” she said while speaking at the African High-level Meeting on Counter-Terrorism in Abuja on Monday.

President Bola Tinubu, while speaking at the occasion, called for the establishment of a regional counter-terrorism centre that would tackle the spate of insecurity across the borders of African states.

He said the centre will serve as a hub for intelligence sharing, operational coordination, and capacity building throughout Africa.

The president said Africa must take a comprehensive approach to combating terrorism, not only through might, but by addressing the root causes of the scourge like marginalisation, poverty, inequality, and social injustice.

President Tinubu explained that while seeking to address the root causes of terrorism, Africa must also attack the roots that feed its evil branch like ransom and illegal mining, “as terrorism evolves and perfects ways to continuously finance, re-equip, and re-supply itself for its sinister mission.”

The president, who lamented the effect on the people, said, “Not only does it kidnap people; it kidnaps precious resources. Billions upon billions of dollars that legitimate governments should be using to sculpt better societies by providing education, healthcare, and food for its people now go to pay for weapons and response to mayhem.

“Look at the illegal mining that plagues so many of our nations today. Those who think illegal mining has no connection with financing terrorism are sorely mistaken. The international community has both the moral and legal obligation to help in this cause because it is external finance, not African money, that fuels these illegal operations. We shall be knocking on this door of the international community to answer this call for justice, peace, and fair play.

“Key to our collective efforts against terrorism is the urgent need for a fully operational Regional Counter-Terrorism Centre.”

The president, however, added that the African region must strengthen existing counter-terrorism structures, such as the Regional Intelligence Fusion Unit (RIFU) in Abuja, the African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism (ACSRT) in Algiers, and the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (CISSA) in Addis Ababa.

He underscored the importance of a regional standby force that includes tackling terrorism as part of its mandate.

The president affirmed that Nigeria is committed to working with regional partners to strengthen arms control measures, enhance border security, and disrupt the illicit trafficking networks that fuel terrorism and organised crime, while urging firm and expeditious actions against prevailing insecurity on the continent.

In his welcome address, National Security Adviser, Malam Nuhu Ribadu, stated that terrorism in Africa is driven by a number of factors, including organised crime, foreign terrorist financing and training, poverty, inequality, prolonged conflicts, among others.

He said Nigeria is dealing decisively with all the drivers of violent extremism, including economic and social enablers, while enhancing intelligence gathering through enhanced inter-agency collaboration and confidence building with citizens.

He also said Nigeria is strengthening its judiciary to effectively deal with cases of terrorism and has earmarked a fund to boost counter-terrorism efforts.

“We have resumed the prosecution of Boko Haram suspects across the country,” Ribadu said.

Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT), Mr Vladimir Voronkov, commended Nigeria for its leadership in counter-terrorism in Africa and for hosting the meeting.