Dr Kayode Fayemi, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, says resurgence of authoritarianism in Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) sub-region can hamper good governance.
Fayemi spoke at the opening of a two-day Policy Dialogue on Regional Economic Communities and Peace Building in Africa: Lessons learned from the experiences of Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD) and ECOWAS in Abuja on Thursday.
The minister, who spoke on “Two and a Half Decades of ECOWAS’ Peace Intervention in West Africa: And Insider-Outsider Perspective”, said authoritarianism had started manifesting in the Sub-region.
He said it had been manifesting in Gambia through the president’s utter disregard for the rule of law and respect for fundamental human rights.
According to him, it may play out in a few other member states in the years to come if not checked.
“It may likely be to test the resilience of the Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance in the Sub-region.
“Member States no longer wait for six months prior to elections to attempt to fiddle with their constitution.
“It is now done well in advance so as to avoid breaching the provisions contained in Article 2 of the Supplementary Protocol.
“This reinforces the call for the strengthening of the sanctions regime for the 1999 Mechanism and the 2001 Supplementary Protocol.
“ We still have the youth bulge problem with us and cannot wish it away.’’
Fayemi said while the challenges appeared daunting, members should not expect the ECOWAS Commission to do it alone.
He said that the commission should ensure that its leadership and workforce harnessede the resources at its disposal in order to carry out its mandate effectively.
The minister, however, called on academics, policy makers and stakeholders to work with ECOWAS to come up with policies that would address some challenges in the Sub-region.
He said that it was unfortunate for ECOWAS still grappling with prevailing peace and security challenges as new ones emerged.
“The ability to effectively cope with both the old and the new requires a multi-pronged, multi-actor and multi-sectoral approach.
“Today, the new transhumance problem, mostly felt in Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Burkina Faso and Niger, requires quick intervention by ECOWAS.
“Guinea Bissau, a perennial problem for West Africa, largely as a result of its problematic security sector, and political interference from outside, is not about to go away.
“The Ebola Virus Disease or another major pandemic may occur. Are we prepared to tackle this?
“Inconclusive efforts at national reconciliation in Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire may yet again become problems for the future,’’ the minister said.
In addition, Fayemi urged the Commission to implement some of the recommendations and protocols that the commission had come up with for over two and half decades to enhance its peace interventions.
He said that ECOWAS should also embark on institutional reform and effective institutional management to put the commission on the path of its founding fathers.
“I mentioned that previous attempts at undertaking institutional reforms have either been deliberately derailed or frustrated, for political reasons.
“For ECOWAS, it must either evolve into an effective, modern 21st century bureaucracy or risk becoming extinct!
“ As much as is possible, the organisation must be allowed by Member States to independently determine its path,’’ the minister said.
The dialogue was organised by the Nordic Africa Institute in collaboration with Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution and African Peace-building Network.