As Nigerians unite against Morocco in ECOWAS
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.