The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has called for a return to the Lagos Treaty of 1975 which encourages inclusive governance system in order for the advancement of political and security stability in the member countries.
Vice President of ECOWAS Commission, Mrs Damtien Tchintchibidjaa made the call on Tuesday in Abuja, at the launch of the project; Citizens Participation for Accountable and Inclusive Democracy (C-PAID), organised by West African Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) in partnership with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Tchintchibidjaa noted that, member states of the ECOWAS must remain focus in their collective endeavour in the areas of peace and stability as to achieve the set goal of the organisation.
She said the call had become imperative in view of the fact that despite the overall appreciable progress made, particularly in the field of political governance, the subregion had continued to face considerable security challenges.
She said: “The widespread public perception that national development plans and actions to improve socio-economic services through the provision of basic infrastructures and amenities such as healthcare, electricity, housing, employment, small scale business development and others are often perceived as elitist, exclusive and inadequate to serve the needs of communities.
“In other words, the state and the citizens do not view developmental needs from the same prism and often measure success or failure of policies and governance from different lenses.
“The recent trend of peaceful and violent demonstrations, call for a more in- depth discussion on the state and structure of inclusive governance in member states in line with the actualisation of the vision for a more stable, secure and citizen centered West Africa.
“Prevailing socio-economic challenges, manifesting through issues such as youth unemployment, has laid the foundation for new political and social movements by youth that challenge existing political establishments.
For his part, the Acting Resident Representative UNDP Nigeria, Mr. Lealem Dinku reiterated the role of internal politics in the role of insecurity in the region adding democracy entails the ability of government to deliver to it’s people the expected mandate.
Dinku said, “Public Governance does not stop at democracy, human rights, and lack of corruption. Rather, defined by the ability of a government to deliver to its citizens the right to access public goods and services also encompasses human development and sustainable and equitable socio-economic opportunities.
“There is no doubt that internal politics, regional power-plays, and bad governance has nurtured the acute insecurity in West Africa, Richly endowed with human and material resources, the region remains one of the most impoverished in the world for reasons linked mainly to absence of leadership and poor political and resource governance capacity.
“For the region to reap the dividends of good governance and democracy, citizens must be allowed to play a detrimental role in the decision-making processes. Engaging citizens in governance systems engenders transparency, improves accountability and public resource management, and bring about adequate policy outcomes, development, and the social well-being of citizens.
“The involvement of the citizenry in democratic governance systems, is also strategic as citizens are no longer just beneficiaries, instead act as implementers, practitioners and partners of policies and programs.
“It is not enough to work only on setting up democratic institutions and processes. These institutions and processes must be put to work creating opportunities for citizens to lead healthy and productive lives.
Speaking on the project initiative Executive Director WANEP, Chukwuemeka Eze said, the project is to leverage on the citizens opinions to monitor and criticize government’s performance for effectiveness.
Eze noted that, “the project launched is to leverage the opportunities of the digital space through crowdsourcing to mobilise citizens’ ideas, contributions, and opinions beyond borders to create a regional online community across West Africa, to monitor and critique government performance for the effectiveness of democratic institutions and practices.
“The project will specifically provide unique perspectives across various interest groups on the expectations of democratic governance as well as mechanisms for accountability and inclusivity of West Africa peoples to development and peace within the region.