Amid rising concerns over stability threats to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have joined forces to address challenges and advocate for regional harmony during an interactive meeting in Lagos.
The meeting, attended by prominent organizations such as the West African Consultative Forum (WACSOF), Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), and Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), aimed to emphasize support for regional integration in West Africa.
Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani), Executive Director of CISLAC and Chairman of Transition Monitoring Group, expressed concern over developments jeopardizing ECOWAS’s unity. He highlighted the importance of a united ECOWAS in addressing issues such as violent extremism, terrorism, and trans-border crimes in the region. The CSOs called for political, economic, and security stability, urging politicians to uphold democratic principles.
The CSOs condemned the indefinite postponement of Senegal’s February 25th, 2024 election without widespread consultation, viewing it as an abuse of power. They emphasized the need for a united ECOWAS to combat undemocratic behaviors capable of instigating military junta.
Mrs. Chiemelie Ezeobi-Eze, Features Editor at Thisday Newspaper, brought attention to reasons Africa may struggle to unite and the imperative for unity. She outlined challenges, including mistrust among ECOWAS nations, xenophobia, language barriers, and interference from world powers. Ezeobi-Eze urged leaders to move beyond partiality, strengthen regional security, and localize laws to achieve common goals.
The CSOs emphasized the role of ECOWAS in promoting economic cooperation, peace, stability, security, and good governance. They discussed recent coups in Africa, questioning the efficacy of ECOWAS in achieving its derivatives amidst eight coups since August 2020. The CSOs called for a firm, respected leader to drive ECOWAS effectively.
The discussion delved into the danger of secession from ECOWAS, citing instances of military unrest and potential threats to regional stability. The CSOs stressed the importance of dialogue in dispute resolution, cautioning against the use of force.
In conclusion, the CSOs acknowledged the potential spill-over effect of recent events in the region on many countries. They reiterated the importance of every ECOWAS member state’s commitment to achieving critical objectives for economic and social prosperity.
Mr. Solomon Adoga, CISLAC Senior Program Officer, spoke on ECOWAS Vision 2050, emphasizing the need for leadership, political will, ownership, shared responsibility, complementarity, and subsidiarity to achieve the set objectives.
The CSOs committed to ongoing efforts to ensure economic development, reduce poverty, and address infrastructural deficits in West Africa. The interactive meeting aimed to foster an inclusive and fruitful deliberation, promoting unity and stability in the ECOWAS region.