As Nige­ri­ans unite against Morocco in ECOWAS

The Guardian (Nigeria) - - OPINION - By Kelechi Oko­ronkwo See the re­main­ing part of this ar­ti­cle on www­guardian.ng for fur­ther read­ing

DUE to their di­ver­sity, which they said is also their strength, it’s al­ways dif­fi­cult for Nige­ri­ans to agree on one thing. The man from the north would have a dif­fer­ent opinion from the other from the south. Even in the south, the man from South-east would hold a dif­fer­ent opinion from the other from the South-west. Nige­ri­ans know how to have their opin­ions and there is noth­ing any­one could do about it.

How­ever, some is­sues have re­quired Nige­ri­ans to speak with one voice. One was the Ebola epi­demic in 2014. That scourge gal­vanised Nige­ri­ans, and ev­ery­one stood united to stamp out Ebola. When ru­mour came from nowhere that cit­i­zens should drink and bathe with salt wa­ter to pro­tect them from get­ting Ebola, salt dried up in the mar­kets be­cause every Nige­rian scram­bled for salt-wa­ter bath. There were very few Nige­ri­ans who did not drink nor bathe with salt-wa­ter be­fore the dawn of Au­gust 7th, 2014. Ev­ery­one obeyed every rule against hav­ing bod­ily con­tacts with strange peo­ple. Writ­ing about how Nige­ri­ans united against Ebola, the New York Times of Septem­ber 30th, 2014 said that Nige­ri­ans’ ac­tions seem to con­tain Ebola: “Dr. Sue Des­mondHell­mann, the Gates Foun­da­tion’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, said she was “heart­ened to see this pos­i­tive re­sult of the ef­forts of so many in Nige­ria.”, said NYT.

With that one­ness of spirit and of pur­pose, and by the grace of God, Nige­ria was able to stamp Ebola within a short pe­riod of time. The is­sue at hand is the ad­mis­sion of Morocco, a north­ern African coun­try, into the comity of West African coun­tries—the Eco­nomic Com­mu­nity of West African States (ECOWAS). Since last July, when the Min­is­ter of For­eign Af­fairs, Ge­of­frey Onyeama in­formed Nige­ri­ans that Morocco wants to find its way into be­com­ing ECOWAS mem­ber, Nige­ri­ans have re­sisted the move the same way they re­sisted Ebola. There has never been a dis­sent­ing voice. And their ar­gu­ment is gen­uine. What other mo­tive, if not ul­te­rior mo­tive, should be driv­ing a coun­try in far north Africa to be seek­ing mem­ber­ship of West African re­gional co­op­er­a­tion? Apart from the fact that Africa was di­vided into five Geo-po­lit­i­cal re­gions, it is equally against the es­tab­lish­ment treaty of ECOWAS to ad­mit coun­tries out­side the West African re­gion. That treaty was signed in La­gos on 28 May 1975, by Gen­eral Yakubu Gowon, and his coun­ter­part, Gen­eral Gnass­ingbe Eyadema of Togo. The then Or­gan­i­sa­tion of African Unity (OAU) (now African Union (AU)) Coun­cil of Min­is­ters, in its Or­di­nary Ses­sion held in Ad­dis Ababa, Ethiopia, from Fe­bru­ary 23 to March 1, 1976, by Res­o­lu­tion No. CM/RES.464 (XXVI), di­vided the whole of Africa into five geo-po­lit­i­cal Re­gions, namely North­ern, Western, Cen­tral, Eastern and South­ern Africa. By that Res­o­lu­tion, Morocco be­came a North African coun­try and not a West African coun­try.

Yes­ter­day, crit­i­cal stake­hold­ers warned the Nige­rian Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment to quickly check­mate Morocco’s am­bi­tion as it will speed up dis­in­te­gra­tion of the Nige­rian state. They spoke at a one-day pub­lic hear­ing put to­gether by the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives joint com­mit­tees on For­eign Af­fairs and Co­op­er­a­tion for Africa In­te­gra­tion ti­tled: “Pub­lic hear­ing on the Re­view of Nige­ria’s Mem­ber­ship of ECOWAS In View of Mo- rocco’s Bid to be Ad­mit­ted Into the Re­gional Body”. For­mer Di­rec­tor Gen­eral, Nige­ria In­sti­tute of In­ter­na­tional Af­fairs, NIIA, Prof. Bola Ak­in­ter­inwa, said “any at­tempt to al­low Morocco to join the re­gional body will dis­in­te­grate Nige­ria”. Ak­in­ter­inwa ar­gued that he had 12 points that could make Nige­ria check­mate Morocco from join­ing “as it’s one of the most cor­rupt na­tions in the world go­ing by the re­cent cor­rup­tion in­dex ac­count.”

Speak­ing al­most in the same vein, rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Di­rec­tor Gen­eral, NIIA, Prof. Fred Agwu and ac­tivist lawyer, Femi Falana said Nige­ria should ve­he­mently stand against Morocco’s bid. “He who pays the piper dic­tates the tune. Nige­ria can block Morocco from ECOWAS”, said Agwu, while Falana added that “any at­tempt to al­low the North African coun­try to join ECOWAS will sub­vert Nige­ria’s eco­nomic pros­per­ity”. The Na­tional Vice Pres­i­dent of As­so­ci­a­tion of Re­tired Am­bas­sadors of Nige­ria, AR­CAN, Am­bas­sador, John Shinkaye, in his view ad­vised the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment to ef­fec­tively check­mate Morocco now as its mem­ber­ship will spell doom for Nige­ria.”

Ear­lier in July, Dipo Fashina, Con­vener, Nige­rian Move­ment for The Lib­er­a­tion Of Western Sa­hara, (NMLWS), ar­gued that ECOWAS owed its ex­is­tence and sur­vival to Nige­ria and that Nige­ria should not al­low any for­eign body to whit­tle down its con­trol of the re­gional body. Oko ron kwo,anaut ho rand pub­lic re­la­tions man­ager sent in this piece from abuja.

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