• Monday, March 04, 2024
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Groups call for dialogue on ECOWAS disintegration

Groups call for dialogue on ECOWAS disintegration

…seek speedy restoration of Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso

Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), West Africa Civil Society Forum (WACSOF) and the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) have called for dialogue to mitigate the disintegration of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

They made the call on Monday at a media interactive meeting in Lagos on the state of ECOWAS and regional integration in West Africa.

“Civil society organisations working in Nigeria and West Africa have observed with worry the recent developments in the West African region that threaten the unity of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS),” Auwal Rafsanjani, executive director of CISLAC, said.

He said it was worthy of note to emphasise that ECOWAS has come a long way in fostering regional integration by building a community of people which is focused on economic, political, and social developments.

“As civil society organisations in Nigeria and the West African region, we are resolute in working to ensure ECOWAS stays focused on promoting genuine democratisation processes in the region,” he said.

“In looking towards the actualisation of ECOWAS Vision 2050 which shifts the focus from ECOWAS of states to ECOWAS of the people, it is important to activate the National Focus Persons of ECOWAS to intensify and coordinate CSO engagement towards the implementation and actualisation of Vision 2050 to bring about peace and prosperity for all,” Rafsanjani added.

Solomon Adoga, programme officer of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, said ECOWAS vision 2050 was ‘ECOWAS of the People: Peace and Prosperity and for All.’

He said following an inclusive and participatory consultation with stakeholders in member states, their aspirations highlighted the relevance of the five developmental themes known as the pillars of the vision for ECOWAS.

He cited peace, security and stability as the first pillar, saying, “strengthen human security through home-grown and sustainable initiatives bearing in mind the multidimensional security threats facing the region.”

Adoga said the second pillar was governance and the rule of law, adding that there was a need to ensure the establishment and effective functioning of strong and credible institutions that guarantee respect for fundamental rights and freedoms.

“The region will work to strengthen democratic governance, consolidate the rule of law, and enhance justice delivery,” he said.

He also cited economic integration and interconnectivity as the third pillar. “This process is envisaged not only through the free movement of people and goods but also through the enhancement of trade and market integration as well as the achievement of the economic and monetary union.”

He said the fourth pillar was transformation, inclusive and sustainable development. “This pillar is based on the improvement of the living conditions of the population through the optimisation of the quality of the education and knowledge-building systems.

“The creation of decent jobs for young people and women as well as the strengthening of resilience to public health.

“This pillar is also based on the structural transformation of economies driven by the digitalisation of the economy, entrepreneurship, science and technology and structuring investments in growth sectors,” Adoga said.

Kop’ep Dabugat, general secretary of West Africa Civil Society Forum said the founding of the forum was driven by both the demand for space by civil society to engage on human security issues as well as the need to address gaps in ECOWAS’ strategy for engaging civil society.

The civil society groups decried the events surrounding ECOWAS and the recent announcement of the withdrawal of the Republic of Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso from the regional community.

“While civil society organisations continue to condemn in totality military rule in the region rather than resorting to constitutional measures, the threat of gradual disintegration of a community which had hitherto served as best practice template for regional integration in Africa cannot be overlooked.

“It is imperative for Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso, and indeed the rest of the member states of ECOWAS to have a deep reflection over the collective milestones of the regional integration collectively achieved, including peace missions to member states; free mobility of people, goods and services; trade enhancement.”

They said it was through the removal of customs duties and tariffs on commodities, as well as collective infrastructural development efforts such as the West African power pool that led to the construction of Diama and Manatali dams in Senegal and Mali respectively.

“At a time when the region is advancing discussions of a single market to further boost trade and development, it is completely disheartening to see leaders shun the channel of diplomacy and dialogue and instead attempt to disintegrate the community,” it said.