Tue. Jul 23rd, 2024

Falana Recommends Common Currency, Free Movement, Others To Fast-tract Development in ECOWAS Nations

By Our Correspondent

Legal luminary and human rights activist, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) has called on Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) within ECOWAS to amplify campaign for a common currency for all the nations in the region, as well as free movement of nationals as part of measures to promote sustainable development, peace and security among ECOWAS nations.

Falana made the call in a keynote address at the ongoing West Africa Civil Society Week in Lagos.

The three days conference which is in its maiden edition was organised by the the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) and Spaces for change ((S4C) with supports from the Ford Foundation.

The human rights lawyer who joined the discussion virtually believed that with a common currency as it is in Europe and America, ECOWAS will overcome major bottlenecks in its quest to achieve sustainable growth and development.

While recommending that nations in the region should promote free movement for persons from member states without visa restrictions, Falana also urged the CSOs to seek funding locally and stop relaying on foreign donors.

This he said would make them to be completely free to work for the good of the masses and their nations.

He expressed displeasure over the undue influence of foreign interests in Africa, saying CSOs should strengthen campaign aimed at prevailing on ECOWAS to be focused on its core objectives of pushing for the good of masses in the region.

To that effect, he called on all the stakeholders including Nigeria to ensure that peace and tranquility returns to Niger Republic, even as he asked for the unconditional release of the deposed president of that country.

The activist opined that efforts should be deployed without delay to address some of the things fueling coup d’etat in the region ,one of which is the unconstitutional elongation of tenures by governments in power.

According to Falana, ” In view of the weight of military coup d’état sweeping across West Africa, ECOWAS should approve the proposal without any further delay.

” Happily, ECOWAS leader has abandoned the tenured plan to wage a war against Niger Republic. Since ECOWAS has opted for dialogue and the military junta in Niger has proposed a three-year political transition, the sanctions imposed by ECOWAS should be lifted. As a matter of urgency, electricity should be restored to Niger by Nigeria”,he said.

Falani believed strongly that CSOs would make greater impact if they work together ,as he enjoined them to do something fast about the abuses of the rights of the masses , especially by security forces.

He however told the CSO leaders to live above board and truly commit themselves to pushing for issues that benefit their people, not those of their foreign donors.

Reacting , the Senior Advisor for Governance and Peacebuilding, Africa Union, Addis Ababa, Ambassador William Azumah Awinador-Kanyirige said the promotion of common currency should not be for ECOWAS alone but the entire Africa, pointing out that such would be necessary to encourage seamless economic activities for the sustainable development of the black continent.

He also reiterated the urgent need for a funding mechanism for NGOs in Africa so that they will no longer rely on foreign donors to operate.

On her part, the Executive Director West Africa Civil Society Institute, WACSI, Ms Nana Afadzinu blamed the increasing agitation of the people against their leaders in government as the obvious failure of democracy to translate into better living conditions for the masses.

Afadzinu stated that in as much as they are against military takeover in Niger Republic , no efforts should be spared in ensuring that governance truly cares for the masses as against the current state in which elected leaders are after their selfish gains, neglecting the people.

According to her, ECOWAS should stamp it’s feet on the ground and push for the kind of democracy that works for them, and not follow others blindly.

The conference is envisioned as a catalyst for deepening the understanding of the evolving landscape and redefining the role of civil society in countering the decline of democracy, coup attempts, and encroachments on civic freedoms in West Africa.

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