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Civil society leaders from across West Africa have held a two-day planning meeting in Accra towards the organisation of an annual convening event for the region.
The convening event aims to develop a strategic approach towards realising the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) Vision 2020 of transitioning from an ECOWAS of nation states to one.
The planning meeting was organised by the West African Civil Society Institute (WACSI) and the West African Civil Society Forum (WACSOF), which would be an annual affair to achieve their objectives by creating space and developing an agenda for action.
Dr Jibrin Ibrahim, Board Member of WACSI, said the meeting was to develop strategy and action plan to reverse the political and security challenges linked to erosion of the democratic order facing the region, which would be under the theme: “The Role of Civil Society in Addressing New Challenges in West Africa”.
He said it was also to create an enabling environment for amplifying the voice of civil society, sharing ideas and programmes that would work and improve networking among organisations in the sub-region.
Dr Ibrahim said majority of the countries, which were in crisis could not provide for the welfare of their people.
Nana Afazidnu, Executive Director of WACSI, noted that, cashing on the vacuum, new forces was emerging and accelerating the crisis and that these included fundamentalist groups challenging the sovereignty of certain states through insurgency and narcotic-traffickers.
She said these groups collided with elements in political power to take over certain states and political entrepreneurs promoting crisis over citizenship that excluded part of the community.
Nana Afadzinu said the crisis in most West African countries were being fueled by the abuse of the powers of incumbency, where officials of government engaged in mega corruption and sought to rule with monarchical powers wanting to have their children succeeded them.
She said civil society organisations in the West African sub-region must rise to create a path towards political renewal and the deepening of democracy in the region.
Nana Afadzinu noted that, civil society organisations in the sub-region were facing serious internal challenges as foreign funding had dropped drastically and development partners now provided resources mainly to their home country’s civil society groups and send them to West Africa to provide foreign consultancy.
She said: “We in civil society have been very slow in encouraging the deployment of local resources to support our engagement. The time has come for us to strategise on this fundamental issue”.