Falana to ECOWAS: Suspend sanctions, restore electricity in Niger
HUMAN rights activist, Mr Femi Falana, SAN, yesterday asked the Economic Community of West Africa States, ECOWAS, to suspend the sanctions imposed on Niger Republic and restore electricity to the country.
He also asked the regional bloc to approve the proposal of two terms for democratically elected presidents in the region.
Falana, who was the keynote speaker at the West Africa Civil Society Week’23 in Lagos yesterday, also asked civil society organizations to shun the temptation of doing the biddings of donors that often negate the principles of democracy.
Speaking at the three-day event organised by the West Africa Civil Society Institute, WACSI, in partnership with Ford Foundation, Civil Space Resource Hub, CSR-HUB, and West Africa Democracy Solidarity Network, among others, he said: ” The effective civil society attitude, NGOs among, is supposed to be voluntary, non-partisan. However, in practice, many received monetary awards for work that was meant to be voluntary.
“Many NGOs understand democracy only in the interest of their donors. Yet democracy that does not lead to good governance or dividends for the people is of no use. And such a democracy, the populace can not defend it; when it comes under threat.
“African civil society groups should be focused, identify the campaign against violations of human rights of the people by demanding compliance by ECOWAS on the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights. Urgent need to end tenure elongation in West Africa following the manipulation of the constitution by elected residents.
“ECOWAS should, therefore, approve the proposal for two terms for presidents. And since she has opted for dialogue in the military junta in Niger, as proposed to three-year military transition, the sanctions imposed by ECOWAS should be lifted as a matter of urgency and electricity should be restored by Nigeria.
Suggesting ways to end uprisings in West Africa, especially coup d’états, Falana called on ECOWAS to end the stealing of mineral resources by imperialists, and as a matter of urgency, launch the single currency to be used by the continent.
“We must take advantage of the political crises in West Africa to launch the eco as the currency for the region,” he said.
Executive Director, West Africa Civil Society Institute, WACSI, Ms. Nana Afadzinu, noted that the conference was organised to chart a new course for civil society organisations, CSOs, and ECOWAS to promote good governance, and oppose coup d’ètats, among many challenges facing West African states.
Her words:” To be very clear- We want democracy and good governance, we oppose coup d’états and prefer constitutional rule and good electoral governance- those are our principles and we have stood for and fought for, but even more fundamentally, we being West Africans ourselves are, stand with the people- for our peace, security, prosperity and collective well-being.
“But, in a climate where citizens have demonstrated opposition to what seems ideal because they have not benefited from democratic dividends and even in countries that do not face these governance upheavals there is growing apathy the question stares at us – whose democracy has it been; who are those that are benefitting from the system we have; whose interest is it serving and what does it mean for us- our civic space? And really… whose side are we on?
” It is our firm belief that this week will afford us a rare opportunity for deep reflection; honest and bold discussions; sharing and also learning, finding ways to strengthen our solidarity; using current platforms like WADEMOS; enquire and deliberate on how to strengthen our engagement with ECOWAS and make functional already approved mechanisms like ECOWAS’ ECOSOCC; and look at ourselves again in the mirror as civil society in West Africa. “