The Executive Director of West Africa Network for Peace Building (WANEP), Chukwuemeka Eze, has said it is erroneous for international communities to think that Africans are “hungry for guns”.
Chukwemeka was speaking on the Joy News’ AM Show on security matters following a nationwide push to retrieve illegal small arms currently in circulation.
“International communities cannot continue to make it look like Africans are hungry for guns when the African market is also part of the market that they are using to increase their economy,” he said.
The National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons has said that there are over 1 million unregistered firearms in the country.
According to the Executive Director, there is a need for Africa to have multilateral engagement with international communities to ensure proper accountability of arms.
“I think it is important that we engage in a more robust way with our international partners to say that beyond just giving us money for arms proliferation to control arms, it is also important that you also control your own end and ensure that you don’t sell arms or supply arms to non-state actors or to non-official actors,” he noted.
A statement by the Police Service recently identified some 4,098 areas across the country as hotspots prone to electoral-related violence.
The WANEP Director stressed on the need to develop industries within Africa that will provide employment opportunities for the youth and make the illicit use of arms unattractive.
“We need to ensure that we provide opportunities that will make arms very unattractive to be accessed or used”.
He added that efforts in ensuring that guns and any other form of small arms are licensed need to be intensified.
“We need to intensify the efforts that are already slated in West Africa about marking arms, especially guns within the West African region to the extent that when you pick a gun, you are able to tell where it is coming from,” he said.
He also noted that “what is hindering the economy in the region is that we don’t have common markets. We are talking about integration, yet crime and criminality are not allowing us to integrate as much as we want to enable a more robust West African market to provide more opportunity for the youth”.
“If crime is making us raise the wall and yet the vision of the community is to have a borderless community where people can’t interact and trade freely so that we can maximise the potentials of the ECOWAS community space, then that’s a very big problem to grow the economy with,” he added.