Nigeria’s foremost human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) has asked the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to approve tenure of two terms for member states without further delay as a measure to stop coup plot in the sub-region.
He made the recommendation at the inaugural West Africa Civil Society Week, a three-day conference held in Lagos between August 29 and 31.
The conference was organised by West Africa Civil Society Institute (WASCI) in collaboration with the West Africa Democracy Solidarity Network.
It was designed to delve into the pivotal role of civil society in safeguarding democratic values, consolidating regional development and navigating the complex contemporary landscape
At the conference, Falana said tenure of two terms “should be approved by ECOWAS for presidents in the region. In 2015, it was opposed by Togo. In 2022 Senegal and Cote D’Ivoire did the same.”
He also urged the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of States and Government “to take the advantage of the political crisis in the region to launch the ECO currency.”
“The 30-years struggle by ECOWAS to establish a regional currency, ECO to promote trade and development in the region have been hijacked with the collaboration of some leaders, particularly President Emmanuel Macron of France.
President Macron has taken over the responsibility of establishing and even printing the new currency. This still shows colonial influence. We must take advantage of the political crisis in West Africa to launch the ECO as the currency for the region.”
Frowning at military intervention in West Africa, Falana said: “We do not want military rule. Our development will be constrained. There is urgent need to address tenure elongation in West Africa. What we call rule of law has become rule of the rich and rule of the few.”
The human rights lawyer urged the regional body to end the reckless exploration of mineral resources of African countries by colonialists.
The Executive Director of WACSI, Nana Afadzinu said civil societies want democracy and good governance. She said they oppose coup d’états and prefer constitutional rule and good electoral governance for peace, security, prosperity and collective well being.
She said: “Civil society and the enhanced and strengthened civic space that we are advocating to ensure sustainable development through good governance in West Africa is under a major threat. And we are in a dilemma.
“We still face resourcing issues- COVID exposed the weakness of our institutions, structural patriarchy continues to be an obstacle and the inequitable power in international development strangles our growth and facilitates civic space constraints.
“ECOWAS, once our beacon of hope among regional economic bodies on the continent, seems to have lost the trust of its citizens and waned considerably in moral authority.
“We want our ECOWAS back- back to what it promised to be- that ECOWAS that wanted to be one of peoples and not states,” WACSI’s executive director pointed out.