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Opinions of Monday, 12 August 2013

Columnist: Yekin, Kofi Ali Abdul

Another evidence of the lawless states of ECOWAS

When I chose the title "THE LAWLESS STATES OF ECOWAS" as an opportunity to bring to light the anomalies today typifying the West African sub region, all I wanted to do is to expose the unhealthy pattern of behaviour in the relationship among the components making up the ECOWAS states, on one hand and the Regional entity as a separate body of law of its own.

Very few people in West Africa are aware of the nature of the laws existing in the member states of ECOWAS and the ones that serve the bigger body. It is also worthy of note that very few people understand the magnitude of the effects the gap existing between these laws are having negatively on the sub region. In comparison with the European Union where both the laws governing the sovereign member states as entities and the Union as an entity, are derived directly from the electorates, the laws of the ECOWAS operate slightly differently. In ECOWAS, the sovereign member states source their laws directly from the electorates while the legitimacy of the laws governing the regional body, are sourced indirectly from the people through their representations, if regional parliamentarians are the law makers of ECOWAS. (If they are not, then who are?)

The slight difference in the sources of the laws of the EU and the laws of ECOWAS, than anything else explains why the EU is capable functioning exactly as any of its sovereign member states could do when confronted with a state-like challenge. In the ECOWAS however, the source of the laws make it very difficult for the Union to react exactly the way its sovereign member states are doing when face with state-like live challenges. This ECOWAS disability then results in what is best describe as a lawless society. The bigger entity then looks on while the smaller entities struggle to address problems by which reasons the bigger entity was form.

In West Africa, every country has its own laws design to address the unique concerns of the states in question and given the fact that almost everyone of these states is democratically governed, the people of the state directly serve as the sources of the laws, by electing their law makers through the principles of Universal Adult Suffrage. The laws of ECOWAS however do not get their mandate by grassroots participation, but are expected all the same to cater for those challenging responsibilities highly necessary for the citizens of West African states that are socio-economically unviable for any single member state to undertake.

A recent BBC article title “Africa’s journey to space begins on the ground” by Meredith Baker, publish on the 10th July 2012, confirms nothing else than share desperation by some West African states to confront the Space technological challenge necessary for any 20th century people. The article mentioned Nigeria and Ghana as the two West African states actively in the scheme. The Nigerian project is said to be premised on its National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) 1999, with the first satellite lunch in 2003. Most Ghanaians might be learning for the first time, of all the concerns confronting the country, the nation has join the space effort by lunching the Ghana Space Science and Technology Centre (GSSTC), in May, 2012. Space technological and scientific adventure, squarely fall into the category of the challenges the ECOWAS laws are in place to address, in principles. A member state by nature is unfortunately ill equipped physically to bear such a challenge. Out of curiosity, one may even ask if there exist any sane individual within the ECOWAS member States sincerely claiming its citizens are not having Space projects related concerns, requiring urgent attention. This notwithstanding, the Nigerians and the Ghanaians thinking their citizens need this opportunities any more than the citizens of the rest of the 13 ECOWAS states, is share indication of lawlessness in ECOWAS.

A lawless society is a condition that result when an entity of lesser authority out of desperation, due to the absence or lost of confidence in the appropriate authority, embark on confronting a challenge meant for a relatively higher authority, resulting in lesser outcome or total defeat of the original intent. Who in Nigeria or Ghana, could look at another in the face saying, "our space programme to date is a success?"

People take the law into their own hands to advance a selfish interest or to wade off an imminent perceived threat. Imagine a child who smacked another child on the face, in a classroom. There are several factors that could result into the above reaction which are; the teacher was not in the class at all to enforce the classroom laws, the teacher was in the class but does not know how to apply the classroom laws, the teacher was in the class but have no knowledge of the classroom laws, the laws governing the classroom are inappropriate enough for the teacher to employ them, the laws governing the classroom do not exist at all for the teacher to employ them, the students are not aware of the classroom laws requiring all student to report all concerns to the teacher or the students are so stubborn to conform to the laws of the school. The fact above is, everyone of the instance itemised characterise a failing condition enough to depict a lawless society. The base line is a child has a sense of concern enough to apply his/her own law, than resorting to whatever law is already in place, to provide the individual with the appropriate sense of confidence. So it is the insecurity in the child the law was suppose to alley that trigger the child into apply his/her own version of the law.

The action of the child, regardless to whatever the victim did to necessitate such reaction, has defeated the purpose of a classroom to all students. The victim might also react in a certain way that then degenerate into chains of reactions.

In conformity with the effort by the West African states to catch up with global advancement in the field of science and technology, space exploration is a must to the West African states. In deed all advanced nation today rely heavily on this field to proved decent life for their citizens and the West Africans cannot afford to be the exceptions.

This space adventure however is a highly capital intensive project that require a very high market potential in addition to domestic base technological knowhow, to justify the effort. Space adventure is not a fun done just for the sake of it. It is not a project nations embark upon just because such entities have some surplus US Dollar at their disposal. Almost all the European states, even with their high domestic technological know- how, for a very long time never dare into space exploration. The nature f the European states at that time, more than anything else, explains this. The Europeans with keen interest watch the Americans and the Russians, whose markets allowed them, to forge on with the space ambitions. The Europeans rather channelled their resources into developing their people in the field of private house building, public houses, roads, rail lines, tram lines, underground train tunnels, water ways, medical research, creation of farming environment, water supply, and so on.

The reality today is, the West Africans if not the whole of the African continent, must have their own space project in this day and age of IT world. The question however is, by who and how?

So if the Nigerians, with a market potential of over 140 million are committing scarce resources to space programme that several industrialised nations did everything to avoid and the Ghanaians with a domestic market potential with a population of about 24 million are also delving into the space adventure craze, what exactly is the ECOWAS as an entity doing? Is this then not raising some serious questions about the lawless in ECOWAS?

The lawful institutions of the ECOWAS member states are now under the pressure of their respective citizens to respond to a challenge they are not equipped enough to deal with and in doing this, these states are lawlessly doing what lawless entities do in the absence of lawful institutions. The only reason why Nigeria with almost less than half the population of West Africa as its market potential is embarking in the space adventure is because of a lawless ECOWAS with a population of over 300 million people market potential failure to do this on behalf of all her fifteen member states.

Now, here we are with the Ghanaians tailing after the Nigerians on a journey of futility, committing 1% of the annual GDP to the adventure. The huge challenges of Ghana that includes street naming in the city of Accra, are now giving way to a dream adventure into the outer space craze. When one gets in, most of the others also follow. Nigeria has started. Ghana has followed and the rest are only a matter of time, as long as the regional institution of ECOWAS remains lawless like the lawless classroom mentioned above.

Kofi Ali Abdul Yekin

Chairman/Coordinator ECOWAS Citizens Right Campaigners