Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin, Okyenhene, has urged the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to help address the perennial conflicts between nomadic cattle herdsmen and crop farmers in the Sub-Region.
He said the perennial conflicts between nomadic cattle herdsmen and settled agricultural communities needed to be addressed for their mutual benefit.
He said cattle production was an essential aspect of the agricultural sub economy which cut across the West Africa Sub-Region.
The Okyenhene made the appeal on Thursday, during the consultative meeting with traditional and religious leaders on ECOWAS Vision 2050, held at the Ofori Panin Palace in Kyebi in the Eastern Region.
The ECOWAS Vision 2050 envisions a borderless, peaceful, prosperous, cohesive region, built on good governance, where the citizenry has the capacity to access and harness the region’s enormous resources through the creation of opportunities for sustainable development and environmental preservation.
The Okyenhene said it was important to place special emphasis on agriculture and agro-industry, saying that the Sub-Region was basically an agrarian economy which accounted for 80 per cent of the entire work force and almost the entire rural workforce.
He said the agricultural sector held the potential for employment and food security, and that it had to be seen as the main focus of ECOWAS Vision 2050, and must be effectively linked to the stated goals, particularly energy to ensure food preservation and small scale rural agro-industry.
He said however, of key priority must be a deliberate measure to involve traditional authorities in land resource use, administration and land reform policy efforts that were going on in the various countries in the region.
The Okyenhene noted that it was refreshing and gratifying to note that such a historic occasion to map out strategies for long term developmental challenges in the sub region with particular and unique emphasis on the direct involvement of traditional rulers was being held outside the national capital.
“It is a solid and glorifying tribute to the positive role that traditional authority can play in the social and economic uplift of our people and the many ways it can contribute towards the goal of national progress and prosperity,” he said.
He said it also signified the distinguished priority and commitment to the attainment of the stated goals of the ECOWAS Vision 2050 by the ECOWAS Commission, adding that the consultative meeting had come at an opportune moment.
He said the Economic Community of West African States hosted the largest economic and political union in Africa and had the responsibility to set an example for the rest of the continent and the whole of the developing world.
He said the Sub-Region had enormous resources: minerals, forestry, freshwater, marine, a diversified climate that supported all kinds of plants and livestock production, cash crop agriculture potential of all types including ecotourism.
However, despite these enormous opportunities, much attention had not been paid in harnessing the enormous resources of the Sub-Region with the consequence that the people of the Sub-Region were thrown into the abyss of mass poverty, hopelessness and degradation, he said.
He said these vast opportunities were hampered by persistent gaps in education, health, and skills, but most importantly, bad governance which had left the Sub Region reaching a minimal 40 per cent of its estimated potentials.
Concerning governance, the Okyenhene said the horrific scenes on television screens of African young men losing their lives in the Mediterranean in attempts to reach Europe, brought to the fore the need for the examination of the structures and effectiveness of the governance system and approaches to public policy, planning and implementation of programmes in their various countries.
“The Chieftaincy institution is embedded in the psyche of our people, it has the respect, legitimacy and direct relation to their daily lives; materially and spiritually,” he said.
“Chieftaincy is the primary source of political socialization that integrates all aspects of religious, economic, environment, traditional medicine, marriage, self-identity and public peace.
He said it was not enough that politicians thronged the palaces of Nananom every four or five years when contesting elections,
“They must be forced to commit to institute legislative measures to ensure the inclusiveness of traditional actors at all levels of governance in the spirit of decentralization and popular participation.”
Madam Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration-designate, recalled that the ECOWAS Vision 2020 was adopted in June, 2007 by the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS as the development blueprint for the transformation of West Africa into a borderless, peaceful and prosperous region by 2020.
She said the ECOWAS Vision 2020 came to an end in December 2020, necessitating the development of a Roadmap for the preparation of the Post 2020 Vision – now referred to as ECOWAS Vision 2050.
She said the processes to fashion out the ECOWAS Vision 2050 commenced in January 2019 and that the meeting was part of that ongoing process.
“The realization of this noble vision depends to a large extent on local actions taken by our Community citizens with the support of our Traditional and Religious leaders who are the custodians of our societal norms,” she said.
Madam Finda Koroma, Vice President ECOWAS Commission, said the selection of Ghana for the first series of consultations was deliberate because they were seeking to return to the roots of Pan-Africanism that was founded by the founding fathers of Ghana.
She said the late Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first President, continued to inspire them.