The Hypocritical State of West Africa’s Unification

25 Jun

Over 200 million people live in West Africa. Majority of the 16 states that comprise the region believe in the notion that there should be integration. But civil unrest and the fight against corruption have been militating against the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the regional body established specifically for the achievement of this objective. Since inception in 1975, ECOWAS has done so much to effect the needed change but this has not translated into the desired assimilation. We kept creeping behind outlined policies as written on paper. In fact, these policies have cocooned the most part of our existence that we rarely do without them these days. In the political sense, the ongoing trial of former Liberian leader, Charles Taylor, is an additional obstacle as it brought about an indelible division. Its wounds may take some years to heal. Some West Africans, including their leaders, think the trial of the first African leader is a ruse from the kitty of the West. Another set of people think the cause is right and the intended impression to be created is worthwhile but there is something wrong with the trial process. Others support the trial but are not really interested especially because of the distance of its sitting. This diversity in views has crept insidiously into the wrong side of our memory. Many of us young minds now share various views which contradict the assumed exemplary role the trial ought to be playing. So these misunderstandings in thoughts, coupled with hypocrisy from high places, have contributed to the worsening of our integration move. Despite the fact that policies that would ease the movement of people and goods within the region have been actualized, and a common currency that would further strengthen our unity is on course, oneness still seems far. Every day, West Africans are getting closer in distance but farther at heart. This calls for every reason to doubt if the Eco will achieve the expected economical integration when introduced next year December. The European Union is our example but we failed to understand the nitty-gritty of how EU came to a logical conclusion of a common currency. We fail to realize that fusion of states will not materialize fruitfully unless the socio-economic setbacks of individual states are addressed. West African states are not equal in size, produce and earnings. The commensuration of West African states’ capability should not be under estimated as it goes a very long way to determine what will become of a possible union. Yet the onus is on the young ones to continue with the lifting of the mantle of uniting West Africa. We are saddled with the responsibility of attaining a level whereby this region will be able to speak with a voice. Among the minute top echelons ruling our lands, it is well. But among the common people which form the majority, we are complete outsiders. Abuja communes with Yamoussoukro with pleasantries but Ivorians are strangers from another planet at Nigeria’s Seme border. How long are we going to exist under this hypocritical administration spanning though the West African states? There is a sheer difference between our generality -culture and beliefs- in particular. We are yet to overcome these divergences but the system in place is building on the weaknesses brought about. In the Scramble for Africa, also known as the Race for Africa, the French and British particularly, laid claims to African territory during the New Imperialism period between the 1880s and the First World War in 1914. It is high time we forget the demarcation made by the colonial masters during this period and focus on the future. The least independent state in the region, Guinea Bissau, became a republic some 35 years ago so our years being sovereign should not be an alibi. We need great minds that will stand up for the truth and desire to make sacrifices to effect changes in their immediate environment.

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