Ecowas urges Civil Society to be more transparent

By Mnena Iyorkegh, Abuja

Economic Community of West Africa State-Ecowas has given more thrust to Civil Society Organizations in West Africa on transparency and accountability in governance.

This is with the establishment of its Ecowas-Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) platform.

The body stated in a meeting of the various CSOs with officials of the Department of Political Affairs, Peace and Security held in Abuja.

The Ecowas Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Mrs. Halima Ahmed noted that bringing together CSOs within Ecowas Member States would deepen democracy and good governance practices.

It would also fight corruption in Member States, support and promote transparency and accountability at both national and regional levels.

The Commissioner emphasized that the platform raised is not merely a tool for naming and shaming culprits but to constructively engage political power holders with a view to working with them to fill gaps, address challenges and provide remedial solutions.

Mrs. Ahmed identified the significant problem in governance in the region asover-centralization of decision-making and inadequate stakeholders’ involvement which permits patronage of powerful special interests and high levels of corruption and maintaining that civil society is seen as an increasingly important agent for promoting good governance, transparency, effectiveness, openness, responsiveness and accountability.’’

Co-duty bearer
On his part, the Head, Democracy and Good Governance Unit of Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Mr. Eyesan Okorodudu, who presented a paper on ‘‘Understanding the Ecowas Anti-Corruption Architecture’ disclosed the charge of ECOWAS as a co-duty bearer in the entrenchment of transparency and accountability in the region as well as the various Impacts of corruption having regards to the Ecowas main normative framework and the general regional normative instruments for combating corruption in West Africa.

A former secretary of the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Mr. Emmanuel Akomaye stressed the need for Civil Society Organisations to also interrogate their strategies, because the need for more work is imperative, more so that corruption is not ebbing despite all the efforts of the Civil Society Organisations.

Ecowas established the Network of Anti-Corruption Institutions in West Africa (NACIWA) in 2009 as part of its strategies to promote accountability and transparency in political governance in the region.

The network was set up in conformity with the provisions of Article 38 (2) of the Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance which mandates the Ecowas Commission to apply appropriate mechanism to address issues of corruption within member states and at community level.