West Africa: ‘Ecowas Implementing Scripts By External Interests’ – Northern Groups Fault Tinubu’s Leadership

Kaduna: Piqued by the withdrawal of some West African countries from ECOWAS and the move by the Federal Government to relocate key offices of the CBN and FAAN to Lagos, some Northern Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have written a letter to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Chairman of ECOWAS, insisting that all was not well in ECOWAS under his leadership.

They alleged that the current trajectory of ECOWAS under his leadership, raised serious concerns and created the perception that ECOWAS might be implementing a script influenced by external, imperialist interests, particularly from former colonial powers like France.

“This is really troubling. Such external influences, if true, could compromise the integrity, autonomy, and objectives of ECOWAS, potentially leading to decisions that do not align with the collective interests of West African nations,” the groups stated.

Those who signed the letter were a former Minister,Kabiru S. Chafe of the (Arewa Research & Development Project – ARDP), Babayola M. Toungo (Arewa Research & Development Project – ARDP) ,Abubakar Siddique Mohammed (Centre for Democratic Development, Research & Training – CEDDART) Massoud Omar, (Centre for Democratic Development, Research & Training – CEDDART),Hashim Tom Maiyashi (Joint-Action Committee of Northern Youth Association – JACOM) and Ms. Latifa Abdussalam (Joint-Action Committee of Northern Youth Association – JACOM)

The letter reads as follows:

Your Excellency,Upholding Regional Solidarity and Nigerian National Unity: An Open Letter to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on ECOWAS Challenges and Domestic Policy Concerns:

You may wish to recall our earlier correspondence to you, dated 5th August 2023, where we expressed deep concerns regarding the potential dangers and implications of military intervention and the imposition of economic sanctions on Niger Republic by ECOWAS.

In that letter, we underscored the delicate balance required in addressing regional conflicts and the importance of diplomatic engagements over military actions or economic penalties. We emphasized the need for ECOWAS to pursue strategies that would uphold stability, encourage dialogue, and promote economic collaboration, rather than resorting to measures that could exacerbate tensions or lead to further destabilization of the region. Despite the well-thought- out suggestions offered to prevent the disintegration of the regional bloc, it appears that ECOWAS, under your chairmanship, has not fully heeded these recommendations. Today, as we address you in this current open letter, it is apparent that the concerns raised previously resonate with the ongoing challenges within ECOWAS, particularly the recent withdrawals of the Niger Republic, Mali, and Burkina Faso from the bloc.

The current trajectory of ECOWAS under your leadership, raises serious concerns. It creates the perception that ECOWAS might be implementing a script influenced by external, imperialist interests, particularly from former colonial powers like France. This is really troubling.

Such external influences, if true, could compromise the integrity, autonomy, and objectives of ECOWAS, potentially leading to decisions that do not align with the collective interests of West African nations. The perception that ECOWAS is being swayed by external, non-African influences undermines the confidence of member states in the organization’s ability to prioritize and protect African interests.

It is crucial that ECOWAS remains a body driven by the aspirations and needs of its member states, free from the undue influence of external powers. The strategic decisions and policies of ECOWAS should reflect the collective will of West African nations, aimed at fostering regional integration, peace, and security.

One of the most pressing issues needing to be dealt with seriously is the fight against insecurity in Nigeria, a battle that is intrinsically linked to the stability and cooperation within the ECOWAS region. The withdrawal of Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso poses a direct threat to the collaborative efforts required to combat regional security challenges.

These countries, particularly Mali and Niger, are critical in the fight against terrorism and insurgency, given their geographic positioning and the nature of cross-border security threats. Their departure from ECOWAS not only weakens the regional security framework but also leaves Nigeria more vulnerable to the spillover of instability and terrorist activities from these neighboring countries.

The decision of the Niger Republic, Mali, and Burkina Faso to withdraw from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) marks a critical juncture in the history of our region. It has significantly altered the political landscape of West Africa, with multifaceted repercussions extending far across political, economic, security, social and diplomatic spheres. Understanding the depth and breadth of these implications is essential for devising a strategic response that upholds the integrity and objectives of ECOWAS.

Your Excellency, ECOWAS has long been a platform for political dialogue, conflict resolution, and the promotion of democratic principles. The departure of these three states weakens this platform, potentially leading to a reduced capacity for collective action and a diminished global voice for the region. The absence of these nations from ECOWAS deliberations creates a gap in representation, undermining the organization’s inclusivity and legitimacy. It also sets a concerning precedent that could encourage other member states facing internal or external pressures to consider similar actions, further eroding the unity of the bloc.

Economically, the departure of these countries threatens the vision of ECOWAS as a unified market. The region’s collective economic growth has been underpinned by policies promoting free trade, harmonized tariffs, and economic convergence criteria. With their withdrawal, not only is the economic integration process disrupted, but the affected countries also risk losing out on the benefits of collective bargaining, shared infrastructure projects, and regional trade agreements. This disruption could lead to increased economic isolation for these countries, potentially exacerbating existing economic challenges and stalling development efforts. Moreover, the uncertainty generated by these withdrawals may deter foreign investment, both in the departing states and the region as a whole.

Security in West Africa has been a perennial challenge, with issues ranging from terrorism and insurgency to transnational crime and piracy. ECOWAS has played a crucial role in addressin…

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