9 June 2017

West Africa: Admitting Morocco Into ECOWAS Is Anti-Nigeria, Says Akinyemi

Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi has condemned the admission of Morocco into the Economy Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

He said the move was motivated by bad faith driven by the desire to whittle down Nigeria's influence in the ECOWAS and by extension in the world.

In a statement yesterday, Akinyemi, who also served as the Deputy National Chairman of 2014 National Conference, described the development as the biggest challenge to the country's foreign policy since after the civil war.

"The only option left for the West African heads of state and presidents, is either to drop the issue of expansion to the Mediterranean or Nigeria should serve notice that it would terminate its membership of ECOWAS," he said.

He pointed out that Nigerian status as a regional power was facilitated by its role in ECOWAS, adding, "The issue of the admission of Morocco, and possibly Tunisia into ECOWAS, an organisation midwifed by Nigeria and Togo and on which Nigerian regional security construct has been based for the past 40 years, an organization on which Nigeria's claim to be a regional medium power is based, is such an existential issue for Nigeria that every other thing pales into insignificance."

He noted that the creation of ECOWAS was one of the most fundamental post-civil war strategic policies arising out of the lessons of the war, which is that it is in the strategic interest of Nigeria to lock its West African neighbours into an area of co-prosperity and stability.

Since then, Nigeria's security policies in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cote D' Ivoire and Gambia had been anchored on ECOWAS. When South Africa tried to be an interloper in Cote D'Ivoire, it was on the platform of ECOWAS that South Africa's attempt was seen off. That also explains why Nigeria bears a substantial cost of the ECOWAS.

"Secondly, the geographical boundaries of regions have acquired a legal status internationally. The United Nations (UN), the African Union (AU) and all international institutions now use the concept of regionalism in the distribution of both appointive and elective posts.

"If the ECOWAS decides to invite Angola, Mozambique, South Africa or even Ethiopia to take up membership, my concern will be exactly the same," he added.

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