Who else do West Africans blame for intentionally making the ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) very poor, if the solution to making the ECOWAS stronger and rich is by having all the electorates of West African countries, voting directly in electing their ECOPAL (ECOWAS Parliament) members, on the basis of Universal Adult Suffrage? Blame the gods? Or, blame our hardluck? Or, even go on blaming the white-man for colonization and Slave Trade?
By all intent and purpose, the ECOWAS is suppose to be a very wealthy West African regional institution but the fact is, the body is poorer than the member states it is suppose to be assisting with their individual and collective challenges. So while the EU (European Union) is prospering and showing leadership in both socio political and financial support to every one of its member countries, enough for the European citizens to personally feel the impact of their regional institution, all that the ECOWAS does is display of weakness and utter hopelessness.
COVID19 pandemic is currently plaguing the whole world with lost of lives and livelyhood, as this supposedly misfortune is actually providing opportunities to bodies like the EU and ECOWAS to reassert their rellevance in the lives of their citizens. As the EU is exploiting its mandate to capitalize and making good the opportunities associated with COVID19, it is sad to have the West Africans and their governments, looking at their inadequately mandated ECOWAS, missing the opportunity of doing anything realistic about COVID19.
The biggest challenge of the ECOWAS as an authority, before the ordinary West African today, is to come up with a constructive regional relief policies, backed up by regional financial intervention. This intervention is suppose to cover every aspect of human endeavour. The intervention is suppose to be about the ECOWAS saving jobs by stepping in to assist member states and businesses, covering areas of education, healthcare, research, banking, finance, construction, airlines, travelling, farming and manufacturing. The ECOWAS is suppose to be chartering flights to help in the evacuation of ECOWAS citizens all over the world, as member countries focus their megre resources on PPEs, medications and staff salaries. The ECOWAS is suppose to be purchasing food and medical items in bulk, and making them available to West Africans through the member countries and designated ECOWAS institutions.
The fact before us all is, the ECOWAS look up to funding, as assistance from the EU and UN, to even send out information on her activities, from Abuja to ECOWAS Citizens. Our regional body depend on charity to get some of its basic activities done. So instead of being the wealthy giver, our regional body is a poor regional begger. The evidence of ECOWAS dependency is explain by the display of the UN and EU flags, at any ECOWAS event. If they pay for the events, it is only right to have their presence felt in one form or the other.
Every West African dislike having their ECOWAS toy around with and feel frustrated by the hopeless state of the regional body, but the question West Africans have failed all along to ask is, who benefit from the prosperity of the ECOWAS if it does? If every amount of income the ECOWAS earn goes into solving the problem of the West African, then is the West African not the bebeficiary of a successful ECOWAS? Are all salaries of ECOWAS employees, funding of institutions and projects, not meant for the actualization of ECOWAS vision, of making West African and West Africa prosper?
ECOWAS as an institution is a money making machine like the EU, so if the ECOWAS is not making this income enough to be there for the West African, then this is intentional and the victims are the ones to be blame for this.
All what the ECOWAS need, is to have West African electorates voting directly for their ECOPAL Members, as have been proven by the EU after the Maastrich Treary of 1992 that activated the EU mandate into a sovereign authority, making all EU institutions to become functional and purposeful.
The reform in the election of the ECOPAL Member is all what is needed for the ECOWAS to be self financing body. This single act of having all West African electorates participating in directly electing their ECOPAL members, will not only be making the West Africa Union of nations sovereign in its own right, but legitimising the institutions’ role of providing the desperately needed leadership in West Africa.
Of course, the ECOWAS is a composition of the member countries, to serve as a platform of overcoming a challenge that no single member nation could overcome, on her own. Therefore, the role of leadership expected of the ECOWAS, places it ahead of any individual West African, the member states and made ECOWAS a state of its own, to which sovereign mandate of the electorate is inevitable. It is without doubt that thinking of the ECOWAS to be financially dependent on its member states, than the other way round, is totally insane. The member countries of ECOWAS can never be richer than the ECOWAS. So if the ECOWAS is constantly looking up to the member countrie for funding, than the member countries looking up to ECOWAS for assistance of the last resort, then no ECOWAS project will ever see the light of the day.
It is therefore time, the West Africans must take this issue of voting to the Members of ECOPAL to the street. Post COVID19 must be a new era in West Africa. This pandemic has expose the extent of the hopeless state of ECOWAS. It is time the democracy in West Africa, must mean the right of the West African electorate to do something directly in ECOWAS. We must all be involve and responsible, if it must be about us all.
Long Live our ECOWAS!!!
Kofi Ali Abdul-Yekin
(ECOWAS Citizens Right Advocates)