The making of the ECO is all about the role to be played by a common ECOAWS Constitution in the establishment of a common ECOWAS CURRENCY for all the 15 member states of West Africa. This article seeks to make a strong case for the replacement of the current ECOWAS Treaty of 1975 in favour of an ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) Constitution. A common ECOWAS Constitution is not only a necessary legal facility for the kind of legitimacy the common West African legal tender will need but also a very important source of sovereign strength for the monetary item to be binding directly on the people of West Africa from whom the legal document shall be democratically sourcing its sovereign authority.
The recent discussions across West Africa of the common currency formally to be name the ECO, by the ECOAWS as a medium of legitimate transaction in the facilitation of trade and Economic activities within the region, is an effort to bring into existence a legal tender. Ironically however, the viability of bringing a legal tender into existence for the 300 million people of the 15 different nations with different constitutions without first writing up a common ECOAWS constitution as a superior authority to provide the necessary direct or remote legal guidance for which aim and objective the currency seek to actualize, is in itself a serious act of omission.
Most people in West Africa might not believe that the recent contentions around the coming into being of the ECO are not actually dead as they seem to be. Rather, the World Bank and the IMF are looking for a way of introducing to the West Africans a common currency with the same name as earlier intended, the ECO. The delay in the coming into being of this inevitable medium of common exchange for the people of West Africa is due to how the Breton Woods Institutions will be the ones fully controlling the demand and supply of the ECO. By this, the new ?regional money? will then become an official means of controlling the whole of the West African economy than the original intention of having the people of West Africa controlling their own money.
The Breton Wood Institutions to the West African States are, at present money lenders. Some analysts call them ?heartless financial shylocks?. To them, it is all about money and returns on the money that translates into an authority in deciding how to exploit the West African mineral and human resources, with no concerns on the real effect of their actions on the masses of West Africa. We are struggling with the interests on the money we owe them, and not the principals. We are down on our knees under the heavy yoke of their conditions for the money we owe to them and their creditors are carting away our resources free of charge. In fact we are running back to them for more money out of instinct as it seems to be the only way out. We are hopelessly addicted to indebtedness.
The idea behind the introduction of the ECO is indeed a way out of this financial entrapment. Having however the supply and demand of the ECO ending up in the hands of the Breton Wood institutions just because we are too naive to understand the importance of writing a common constitution for ourselves in ECOWAS, is basically committing a historical suicide for which generations to come shall never forgive us when the realities of the situation begins to down on them.
Money in itself, like the gun, is an instrument of control that can be use for the right reasons or for the wrong reasons. By this nature money become something that must be controls by a legitimate institution with sovereign authority, in this case a written constitution of ECOAWS, for the money to be employable as a means of achieving the genuine aims and objectives of the sovereign authority of ECOAWS.
Our education is still not good enough to awaken our realization that the item ?money? is merely a common paper or metal backed by a sovereign legal authority. We are failing to appreciate the fact that the stronger or larger a modern sovereign authority is, the stronger and more valuable the money such sovereign authority produces to command, of which our smaller entities of ECOAWS and their respective smaller constitutions are at disadvantage. So if for the purpose of a more functional European Union, as an association of various independent governments of sovereign nations has had to write down a common sovereign super constitution in place of a mere EU Treaty, to allow it float a super currency called the Euro for further global competitive advantage to its member states, the independent West African States will have no reason not to do same.
The argument for the fifteen member states regional body to have a common regional legal codes of practices contained in a single document called a constitution, as a higher sovereign authority to fill the current existing vacuum normally exploited by individuals claiming to be advancing the interest of the ?international community?, far outweigh not having the constitution. In fact, this is now long overdue. The over 300 million poor citizens of ECOAWS have for too long had their fate tied to the vulnerable constitutions of their respective member states that easily break down to leaves the poor ECOAWS citizen with no any other option than the protection and justice of the ?International Laws?. This in itself, explains why when our local currencies let us down, we resort to the use of the dollar, pounds and the EURO.
In Ghana or Guinea Conakry, justice to the citizens while in their own country is justice as spelt out in the constitution of the country in question. Ironically justice to the same persons across the borders of Ghana or Guinea within the West African states is base on justice according to the international community (International Law). Well, the challenges and disadvantageous are real but are we learning from this? Or shall we continue to waste our time insulting the Whiteman, Europeans and the Americans for our own ?Blackman?s? short sightedness? (Continue in Part 2)
Kofi Ali Abdul-Yekin
Action Group of Africa (AGA)
Skyp: kofialiabdul1, firstname.lastname@example.org,
(The above is a cue from my book Titled- THE ECOWAS CONSTITUTION DEBATE)