CISLAC, CSOs call for Stability of ECOWAS, Reject Disintegration of Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso

Auwal Ibrahim Rafsanjani, Executive Director, CISLAC, Chairman TMG

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). It is worthy of note to emphasize 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.

These civil society organisations which include the West African Consultative Forum (WACSOF), Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and others reiterate CSOs support for regional integration in West Africa, especially taking into cognisance the benefits of such to the region.

Explaining further, Auwal Ibrahim Rafsanjani, Executive Director of CISLAC, said in forum in Lagos, that a more integrated West Africa is required to defeat the violent extremism, terrorism and other trans-border crimes currently bedeviling the region.

“There is no gainsaying that the measures undertaken by the Community to promote and consolidate cooperation among Member States on criminal matters such as the protocol on Mutual Assistance on Defense Matters and the Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons have greatly contributed to a regional effort at combatting terrorism and crimes in the region. Therefore, having a united ECOWAS is important to defeating terrorism and other organised crimes in the region.”

Continuing, Rafsanjani noted that as civil society organisations in Nigeria and West African region, “we are resolute to working to ensure ECOWAS stays focused on promoting genuine democratization processes in the region. It is on this backdrop that this CSOs interactive meeting is holding to put out a common position which emphasizes more political, economic and security stability for West Africa.”

“On this note, CSOs urge politicians in the region to desist from truncating democracy at the detriment of the people. It is disturbing to see the trend of events where politicians abuse democratic processes and ascribe to themselves arbitrary powers over constitutional governance. These trends are against the critical pillars of ECOWAS Vision 2050.”

Emphasising on the current situation in Senegal, where President Macky Sall postponed election and barred some political opponents from contesting, Rafsanjani condemned his action which could cause instability in the region.   “In line with this, the CSOs in Nigeria and West Africa condemn the indefinite postponement of the February 25th 2024 election in Senegal without consulting widely with the people. This type of action is viewed as abuse of power and must be rejected in the region as it is the type of undemocratic behaviour capable of instigating military junta. It is therefore important for the government of Senegal to immediately fix a new date for the election to hold.”

CSOs working in Nigeria and other parts of West Africa are interested in ensuring economic development that is capable of reducing the poverty and infrastructural deficit in the region.

“Therefore, we will continue to support regional stability in order to boost the economic viability of West Africa.”

“In looking towards the actualization 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 so as to intensify and coordinate CSO engagement towards the implementation and actualization of Vision 2050 to bring about peace and prosperity for all.”

The network of CSOs notes that the recent trend of events in the region can have a spillover effect on many countries and destabilize the peace and economy of the region. It is on this note that they reiterate the importance of dialogue in dispute resolution. Hence, whatever the disagreements are, ECOWAS must desist from the use of force given that it is operationally guided by the Protocol on Non-Aggression.

According to Rafsanjani, CSOs shared belief that every Member State of ECOWAS is at a greater advantage in not just belonging to the community but committed to implementing measures and mechanisms set out to achieve critical objectives of economic and social prosperity for every citizen of the community.

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