ECOWAS headquarters
ECOWAS headquarters

ECOWAS, Africa at crossroads: which way forward? (2)

The question of effective and accountable leadership, and governance systems needs to be seriously addressed to provide hope and better living conditions for the citizens of Africa.

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We must educate and provide opportunities to prevent West African youths from falling into religious radicalisation, the looting caused by hardships, banditry and insurgencies being witnessed in the region.

At CALE, we strongly believe that peace and security are fundamental for Africa’s developmental efforts. Therefore, we must address the underlying chronic poor leadership, governance and structural weaknesses, which are the critical root causes of the continent’s slow development.

It must also be emphasised that national security is the bedrock of national development. Therefore, developing national consciousness and civic pride are the most effective ways to build grassroots civil defence against destabilising elements in local communities.

Secondly, the reasons for Africa’s inability, particularly in the West and Central subregions, to arrest these insecurity challenges are largely due to poverty, lack of development and poorly resourced armies in the fragmented nation states. Africa, beginning with the eight subregional economic communities, needs to move swiftly towards political and military integration.

 It must return to Dr Kwame Nkrumah’s vision for a United State of Africa. Africa needs to implement effective and binding conflict resolution mechanisms and a mandatory APRM in place of the voluntary mechanism.

Integration

Thirdly, Pan-African political integration and formation of a joint high command force would resolve the high military cost and difficulties involved in tackling the continuing local and cross border insurgencies and terrorist activities. These would allow unity of purpose and the pooling of resources together to effectively fight off the growing insecurity threats.

Importantly, political integration would also deter unconstitutional coup d’états as a “collective defence” operational mechanism, like that of the NATO Alliance, namely – “attack on one is an attack on all” can be realised.

This means an attack or insurrection in one country would trigger a military response from the joint high command forces leaving the “uprisers” no place to hide. Interestingly, a similar collective force called Anti Insurgency Force has been established by the breakaway Alliance of Sahel States to fight insurgencies and defend their territorial integrity.

Fourth, to survive and be relevant to the lives of citizens, ECOWAS, and the AU need bold leadership to drive further reforms and move member states towards political integration like the EU model.

Looking at the turbulent political history of West Africa and Africa as a whole, particularly considering the current geopolitical dynamics the prophetic message of Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah for a United States of Africa remains an urgent necessity, if Africa is going to see lasting peace and wholesale durable development of greater benefit to the people. 

Uniform vision

West Africa and the whole of Africa need a uniform vision and common voice on global platforms to be taken seriously, as a respected global player. It is interesting to note that the rest of the world refers and treats Africa as one country, but African leaders continue to cling to their colonially demarcated artificial ‘little’ enclaves in the name of national sovereignty, forgetting that our relevance lies in our collective unity as one people.

Fifth, a bold political union of Africa coupled with its strong and healthy relationship with China could radically change the global order. Together, they can push for a fairer and more balanced geopolitical architecture that would allow equitable and sustainable development of all human societies.

As outlined in Nkrumah’s manifesto for Africa, the AU Assembly in the collective interest and welfare of African people, should agree to put in motion a mechanism at the foreign minister’s level to harmonise the political systems and work out the modalities to actualise the needed politically united superstate of Africa. The Agenda 2063 vision should become the developmental blueprint for the envisaged African superstate.

In this direction, China’s political model offers a good example for the African superstate. Each African state could be the equivalent of the Chinese provincial and administrative regions as they represent different ethnic groupings in the country and each has a functioning local government.

The central government retains foreign policy, overall strategic development, and have national security powers. We should be working towards removing all restrictions on free movements on the continent by developing common African passport. Certain countries, e.g. Kenya, are already implementing this one Africa goal.

As part of this United Africa process, the Assembly should consider making the APRM mandatory for all member states. It should elect or appoint an APRM Body consisting of respected ex-African leaders, eminent scholars and practitioners from various disciplines, exemplary civil servants versed in public administration and successful entrepreneurs from member states to conduct country evaluation and audits on all the agreed developmental key indicators in the Agenda 2063 vision, as a baseline for planning.

The work of the APRM Body should be supportive and forward looking in its approach. It should devise working framework and protocols, which should be approved by the AU Assembly.

 Its primary goal should be to find out effective policies, mechanisms and programmes that have produced tangible transformative progress in the different countries, which can be shared and scaled up across the continent.

The APRM should work with “national” (the to-be provinces) officials to devise technical support mechanisms to help each state improve and overcome identified challenges. Where necessary, a number of the existing states should be merged for greater administrative efficiency.

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Conclusion

In the face of the many crises caused in part by the foreign-imposed divisive border and governance system that tear Africans apart, the continuing terror of terrorism, the wanton destruction of civil wars, the vice of poverty and hunger that follows these evils, the wasteful expenditure on internal border policing that restrict trading among ourselves and the shameless colonial and foreign exploitation, Africa is at a crossroads that radical decisions have to be taken - change course or continue business as usual?

We evoke the memories of our Pan-Africanist forefathers, freedom fighters and thinkers, in particular, President Julius Nyerere of Tanzania and Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, the founding father of Ghana.

The latter, a tireless champion of the elusive Union of African States, in his speech at the founding of the OAU, in Addis Ababa, on May 24, 1963 said: “It is clear that we must find an African solution to our problems, and that this can only be found in African unity. Divided we are weak; united Africa could become one of the greatest forces for good in the world. We must unite now or perish.”

Finally, we humbly ask all current African leaders, in particular ECOWAS and the African Union Commission, your Excellencies, which way forward please? We, the children of Africa deserve your unequivocal answers.

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The writer is the Founder & Executive Director, Centre for African Leadership & Excellence (CALE)
e: [email protected] w: https://calecentre.org/ WhatsApp: +233 50 9469922; t: +86 133780377449

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