A Former Director, Political Affairs in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission, Dr. Aderemi Ajibewa has advised member states of the regional organisation to abide by ECOWAS protocols in order to sustain peace, democracy, and good governance in West Africa.
Ajibewa made the recommendation on Tuesday while delivering a paper at the delocalized meeting of the Joint Committees of the ECOWAS Parliament on Political Affairs, Peace, Security and the African Peer Review Mechanism, Judicial Affairs and Human rights, Social Affairs, Gender and Women Empowerment in Monrovia, Liberia.
Delivering the paper titled: “Assessment of the Impact of the Relevant Provisions of the ECOWAS Protocol of Democracy and Improving Good Governance and Crises Prevention in Member States”, Ajibewa said that Community protocols and instruments already captured the mechanisms on constitutional political governance principles that address governance challenges, noting that the implementation of relevant protocols by member countries would mitigate the level of conflict and bad leadership.
Ajibewa, while listing some of the challenges arising from gaps in implementing some ECOWAS protocols to include over centralization of power, weak institutions and structures, bad leadership, military interventions and interruptions of democratic governance, said: “The position of governance in ECOWAS region is hinged on constitutional political governance principles that address governance challenges and guidelines for member states.”
He noted that: “The supplementary Protocol (2021) provides for democratic control of the armed forces and zero tolerance for military coup d’etats and any form of unconstitutional change of power.”
He said the linkages between good governance and economic development is evident in good management of resources across country’s various sectors which always impacts the country’s economic growth and development.
He assured that: “The efficient operationalization of the provisions of ECOWAS Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance would provide long-lasting solutions to the challenges faced by the West African Region.”
Ajibewa advised that in order to address some of the challenges, ECOWAS Commission should increase engagement and partnership with civil society organisations.
He also tasked the ECOWAS Commission on sensitization of the military on the ECOWAS Supplementary Protocols of Democracy and Good Governance, and capacity building for government officials.
Ajibewa said that Member States are should also be charged with decentralizing powers, noting that it poses serious threat to having a centralize power in a state.
He also advised member states on the revitalization of state structures and institutions, and advocacy for good governance.
In her intervention, Hon. Laadi Ayamba, Member of Parliament for the Republic of Ghana, lamented the limitations to the implementation of policies at the country level.
She said: We have these laws and protocols guiding us but it is sad that implementation is a problem.
“What we lack in our Parliaments is how to implement some of these protocols and that is a gap we must ensure we address. How will ECOWAS look at addressing these gaps.”
A parliamentarian from The Gambia, Hon. Fatimatou Njai, in her intervention said that it is time for ECOWAS to learn lessons from mistakes that have brought down some countries in other to move forward.
Njai said that ECOWAS bodies and institutions need to be firm on laws that retrogrades the sub-region
She said: “In ECOWAS, we need to start reminding ourselves but unfortunately, lessons have not been learnt.
“We have seen our countries draw back from what we fought for because we have refused to learn. We must build an ECOWAS that does not tolerate war. Only then can we achieve a stable region and good governance.”