Stakeholders task ECOWAS leaders on political will to implement policies
The leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have been urged to galvanise the political will to implement developmental programmes that would engender the socio-economic growth of their countries.
Stakeholders in agriculture from the European Union (EU), Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and ECOWAS gave the advice at a meeting in Abuja on Thursday.
They said the advice had become imperative in order to address the challenges that are impeding regional integration and growth.
The stakeholders in agriculture from the European Union (EU), Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and ECOWAS are currently meeting in Abuja to develop a framework on Fishery and Aquaculture for ECOWAS countries.
Dr Aboubacar Sidibe, Senior Official, Fisheries and Aquaculture of FAO, said it was unfortunate that African leaders always found it easy to append signatures to regional integration interventions without bothering about implementation.
He decried the lack of political will on the part of ECOWAS leaders to implement good policies, saying this had made many donor agencies to force their wishes over the region without consideration for their principles.
‘‘It is so unfortunate that the region has lost several trade-related projects aimed at improving transparency, promoting regional coordination and standardisation and improving efficiency due to lack of political will.
‘‘It has made so many donor agencies to treat the region with disdain, forcing the region to bend its rules and abide by the dictates of the multi-nationals and international agencies,’’ he said.
He said it is now time to ensure the transformation of the region, saying that it can only be achieved if governments implement the right regulatory framework and create enabling environment for investors.
Sidibe stressed the need for formulation of policy as the first approach by the continent to have a common proposal, same understanding and address the problem of fishery and aquaculture in the region.
He said: ‘‘the ECOWAS 15 member states and Mauritania, and other donor agencies have agreed to stand by the policy to ensure proper implementation and harmonisation of the sector.’’
Dr Memorious Penging, Deputy Director of Fisheries, Ghana, said that the leaders should be able to speak with one voice and agree on what they wanted the sub-region to achieve.
He also identified many barriers as some of the problems affecting the development of the region.
‘‘There are various security posts between Accra and Badagry, and each post is with different rules and regulations, yet they are under the ECOWAS treaty.
‘‘In spite of several conventions on trade and free movement of people, inter-state road transport and assistance in criminal matters, the ECOWAS community is still challenged with complexities in trans-boundary movements and trade,’’ he said.
Dr Vivian Iwar, ECOWAS’s Head of Livestock Development, noted that the time had come for the leaders to demonstrate strong political will in achieving their set goals.
‘‘Time has come for the entire stakeholders to focus on developmental programme and stop paying too much attention to politics.
‘‘The leaders are not always willing to do something, because they always feel it will impair their chances of being elected, or getting legislation they want passed in the future, or because of their own personal gains,’’ she said.
Iwar said a new sense of urgency was needed among ECOWAS leaders to implement various policies to facilitate the transformation of the region.