Monday, 25 June 2012 08:53
Dr Kabir Garba, Bureau Manager of the ECOWAS Parliament has urged citizens of ECOWAS member states to refrain from referring to each other as francophone or Anglophone.
He stated: “There are no such persons as francophone or Anglophone but people from each side must see themselves as brothers and sisters. We should remember that French and English are not our native languages. It’s important to drop such notions if we are serious about regional integration.”
Dr Garba was speaking at the closing ceremony of the ECOWAS Information and Sensitization Seminar held in Accra from 20-22 June, 2012.
He explained that ECOWAS was not something new that they were trying to implement but a formalisation of already existing relations between West African states long before colonisation, with citizens tracing their roots to some other member countries.
Dr Garba described the three-day seminar as highly successful and encouraged participants to be ambassador of ECOWAS.
Dr Kojo Alabo, Director of the Africa Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, said Ghana took regional integration very seriously because it was the basis for rapid development of the region and Ghana.
The shift from an ‘ECOWAS of states’ to ‘an ECOWAS of people’ has set the task for what is needed to be done to make regional integration what it ought to be.
He urged participants to use the knowledge they had gained from the seminar to move from passiveness to active participation in regional integration.
“Involvement will be based on the knowledge we have and the deliberations have equipped us with the knowledge,” he said.
Dr Alabo also urged them to engage with officials in-charge of the integration process and to advocate the cause of ECOWAS so that the officials would work for the interests of the people.
He announced that the Ministry would extend its sensitization efforts to the three northern regions and other areas where they had not yet covered as well as establish a complaints and observation desk at various border posts to allow people who face challenges there to lodge complaints or give suggestions.
“The ECOWAS we are talking about is not far-off a dream but we can bring it about through active participation,” he stated. “Its success or failure depends on us.”
The participants presented a communiqué containing recommendation for ECOWAS and its member-states to Dr Alabo. The recommendations include, the need for ECOWAS to facilitate the establishment of national sub-registries of the community court of Justice as well as electronic filing of cases, expanding the scope of the court to cover economic and trade issues relating to the regional integration process to facilitate implementation.
They also recommended that member states harmonise their laws and policies in conformity to ECOWAS protocols and decisions, redesign their educational curriculum to inculcate the values of ECOWAS and also take urgent measures to reduce or eliminate harassment, corruption and extortion by border agents at the borders.