Dear Brothers and Sisters of ECOWAS, I am not writing this piece to tarnish or attack the image of any person, as I am fully aware of the huge resources an individual commit to the effort in building his or her reputation. In fact, I rather I help in enriching the achieviments of individuals like my own former president, John Dramani Mahama. Please, forgive me, if I err. That is the least of my intention.

I am writing to draw our collective attention to the challenges making the effort of self determination of the people of West Africa very difficult, if not impossible. I am drawing your attention to the recent role his excellency, John Dramani Mahama played in Kenya that had people heaping blames on him. It is very sad to say, it was actually not about John Dramani Mahama but about the Commonwealth.
The fate Mr. Mahama suffered is just a typical British way of doing things. The British system is design to take credit when it goes right, and heap up blames on the messenger, when things go wrong. So in the United Kingdom, the British monarch take credit for anything good while and the Prime Minister is responsible for anything going wrong. Since her Merjesty the Queen of Britian is the head of the British Commonwealth, the same principle apply. This is best means of explaining the experience of former President John Mahama when the Kenyan Supreme Court declared the last election “unfair and not free”, so “null void”.

It is important to note that John Mahama did not do anything out of the ordinary. All he did, as instructed by the British Commonwealth Office, is to confirm the position of the Kenyan Electoral Commission (Independent Electroal and Bounries Commission -IEBC). For all some of us knew; Warshington, London and Brussels, arrived at a consensus which instructed their respective observers to side with IEBC. So as the leader of the British Commonwealth election observers delegation, all former President Mahama could do was to speak for the British Commonwealth, after receiving a feedback from the Commonwealth Office in London.

My question is, how helpful is any Ghanaian or West African with divided loyalties, to the course of the ECOWAS? Could this be explaining the reason for why the ECOWAS institution is in such an abnormal state? Both the British Commonwealth and the West African ECOWAS, are regional economic bodies aggressively competiting for, at least the wealth West Africa. If highly placed West African personalities like John Dramani Mahama, who are in the driving seat of ECOWAS by the virtue of their status as former heads of West African States, are also found to be working with the British, the French and the Portuguese Commonwealths to compet against ECOWAS, what fate is the ordinary ECOWAS citizen left with? Are we not having the same football player playing for two competing team at the same time? Is this not like a woman marring to men at the same time and having babies for both? How helpful then is it for any proud citizen of ECOWAS to engage in working for the British Commonwealth or the French Commonwealth or even the Portuguese Commonwealth?
Like the man from Togo is a member of the French Commonwealth by the virtue of his colonial heritage, the Ghanaian is a citizen of the British Commonwealth by the virtue of his colonial heritage. So whether we are talking about the British, the French or the Portuguese Commonwealths, the West African is in any of these group by the virtue of his colonial past. Thus, having any Ghanaian assuming any role in the British Commonwealth, is a challenge we have to address one day. We cannot pretend not to be aware of the obvious conflict in the Ghanaian membership of the Imperial British Commonwealth and the expected commitments of the same Ghanaian in his new ECOWAS challenges.
We cannot deny the fact of our present reality of having every Ghanaian experiencing membership of the British Commonwealth by our mere colonial past, while in search for a new future, the same Ghanaian has forged out a citizen of the ECOWAS for generations to come. The average Ghanaian’s loyalty is thus thorn between his British Commonwealth colonial past and the future Commonwealth of ECOWAS. The question is, should the Ghanaian forever subscribe to his fate of the past of unequals or give his future of equals in ECOWAS, more attention?

Therefore, his excellency John Dramani Mahama is not just a Ghanaian but a citizen of ECOWAS, as Ghana is a member state of ECOWAS. It is sad to add that former president Mahama is just as guilty as anyone of us, and still suffer a sense of inferiority associated with our past experience, enough to accept the role of leading the British Commonwealth mission. No American or European will stoop so low in such an association of unequals, to take a dirty job of an errand boy, for a former colonizer. In fact, Mahama is not just a citizen of ECOWAS, but a former chairman of the ECOWAS authority and a former member of the ECOWAS Assembly, which is presently the highest decision making body of the authority.

It is also fair to add that Ghana is not just a member of ECOWAS but a founding member of the 15 regional body. Unlike the relationship of the unequals associated with the British Commonwealth, Ghana’s role in ECOWAS is that of equals while Ghana is the second largest member economy of ECOWAS and our representation of eight (8) members of parliament to the regional block, show how important is the role of Ghana in ECOWAS. So Ghana is a key actor in the development of the future of the West African, meaning the Ghanaian must be proud of the leadership responsibility place on him by the 377 million population of West Africa. How then must a people with such important role in ECOWAS be so low as bootlickers of others? Is this not the sole reason why the United Kingdom risk everything to leave the European Union so as to assume her role of first to none in her British Commonwealth? If the German or French, will never do this out of pride for their European Union of equals, why must any ECOWAS citizen? Will the Europeans not be asking for how can masters with dignifying role become the poodle of others, because they know the Americans will do the same for their Union?

The story of the role of Ghana and Ghanaians in the British Commonwealth, is nothing to write home about. Like the colony that we have once been, we shall be subjects in the British Commonwealth till the kingdom come. Like the name rightly suggest, the reality about the so called British Commonwealth, is the relationship between British Kingdom and her Empire, consisting of all former British colonies. So the British Commonwealth is actually about the British, as that is what the Empire has always been about. Of the 52 (fifty-two) countries making up the British Commonwealth, Ghana is just a number. The Ghanaian is just one of the 2.3 billion subjects of the British Commonwealth, while the “Britain” organise them all from London.

It is fair to say that the 1.2 billion population of India that also make up the 2.3 billion population of the British Commonwealth, is doing very well in forging a better future for the average Indian. The size of India is making her wrestle herself out of the British control. In fact the story of the Indian wrestling with the British for her independence in 1947, says a lot. A good understanding of the Indian history betray how unwilling the British were in granting the Indians their freedom. Amidst bloodshed, the Indian fought the British for their self determination. The continual membership of Indian in the British Commonwealth is just a matter of time, as I envisage the Indians one day telling the Brits for fob off.

The story is not the same with the 27 million population of Ghana. In fact the British were more than willing to hand over our so called “independence” to us, as they were fully aware life after independence to the Ghanaian will be “meaningless” without the already established British assistance. The British were fully aware of our complicated ethno-tribal nationalistic tendencies and its potency to make it difficult for us to understand the simple concept of ECOWAS. They knew that so long as understanding of ECOWAS remain difficult for the average Ghanaian, having the individual to embrace the ideals of regional body to make it work, will be unrealistic. All the British have longed for is to have the Ghanaian continue to be entrap in the British Commonwealth. Thus the membership of Ghana in the British Commonwealth require a new outlook if Ghana and the Ghanaian, could have a purposeful role in her membership of the British Commonwealth, within ECOWAS.

The interesting thing about former President John Mahama in Kenya is, he seem to be the odd person of all the heads of the election observers. President Mahama is the only person in Kenya to represent his former colonial master, instead of representing his independent country or Union. I do not know whether former president Mahama will be proud in telling anyone that the British Commonwealth is his regional body? I have no doubt that even a donkey will laught at him. Could president Mahama nursing any hope of having his children becoming British enough to head the British Commonwealth?

I am sure former President Tabo Mbeki who is answerable to the African Union, will be proud to say he is representing body of a free people of the African continuent. Mbeki and his children are surely nursing the hope of heading the AU one day, than the institution of a former colonial master. I am sure Senator John Kerry who is answerable to the USA as a Union, will be proud to say he is representing the free citizen of the United States of America. Kerry and his children nurse the hope of heading the USA one day, than the institution of their former colonial master. Ms. Marietje Schaake is currently a member of the EU Parliament who is representing the free people of the EU. Schaake and her children nurse the hope of having the oopportunity of becoming the head of the EU, than serving an institution of her former colonial master. The West African is clearly the odd one here!!

The questions most of us are left with is whether it is necessary to make it mandatory for all high office holders of ECOWAS, past and current, to seek clearance from the regional authority before taking up international responsibilities beyond the ECOWAS jurisdiction? Did former president Mahama even got or required clearance from the Ghana Parliament, to act as a British commonwealth Election observer to Kenya?

If it is alright for former president Mahama to hold such loyalty to his former colonial master, enough to earn their trust to represent the British Commonwealth in Kenya, how do we blame anyone in the French speaking ECOWAS member States for doing the same for the Francophone? So when we had president Mahama as a chairman of ECOWAS, could he have been receiving instructions from the British Commonwealth Office in London, on how to run the our regional body to be in their good book? Who then was her excellency Sirleef Johnson trying to be in their good book and therefore, receiving her instructions as the former Chairperson of ECOWAS? Was the instructions coming from United States of America as Liberia in known to us as an ex- colony of the US? Who is the current chairman of ECOWAS, Faure Gnassingbe receiving his own instructions from, on how to chair our regional body? Could we be blaming Faure for receiving his instructions from France, as a subject of the Frech Commonwealth, when it is alright for Mr. Mahama to place his allegiances with the Commonwealth of the British? What about President Marcel De Souze of the ECOWAS Commission? Could the Commission President’s loyalty be to France, as he seem to remain the subject of the former French Empire?

I recalled four years ago when my former presiden, John Ajyekum Kufour, was in Sierra Leone as the leader of an election observer. We were full of joy to have one of our prominent citizen of ECOWAS deployed to a member state, by the regional body, to be the eyes and eras of our regional authority. We know his words will weigh a lot on the election outcome and when the unexpected happens, ECOWAS can rely on credible bases of timely intervention. We know the presence of the former president will be helpful in telling the EU, USA and the British Commonwealth that we are capable of “managing our own affairs”. Our joy was cut short when we read a newspaper caption “The leader of Commonwealth observer mission, Former President J. A. Kufour to Sierra Leone”. We did not waste time for any clarification as we know, the former head of state was not in Sierra Leone representing the Commonwealth of West Africa but the British Commonwealth.

The biggest challenge now is, how do we overcome this complicated but very delicate fate of ECOWAS? How do we overcome a situation that will stop some one like His Exellency President Mahamdu Buhari from travelling out of West Africa to live in the United Kingdom, for over half a year receiving medical care, when Indian heads of states do not have to leave their electorates to seek for medical care in their former colonial master’s land? How do we have the kind of ECOWAS that will make it less attractive for former heads of ECOWAS member states, like former president Abdillai Wade from retiring to France, while he is politically active in Senegal? How could we stop abnormal bahavour that drive individuals like former president Dramani Mahama, who are so insecure of their future, to jump at anything anyone throw at them? How do we stop assuming the role of representing the British Commonwealth to places like Kenya, only to end up with doing someone’s dirty job?

Like former president Ajykum Akufour and JJ Rawlings, former President John Mahama is a very important personality in Ghana and ECOWAS. These individuals were elected by Ghanaians to serve and protect our dignity, in and after their presidency. The Constitution of Ghana was very clear about the role a former president of Ghana must play, after leaving office. In order to avoid the person being vulnerable to all forms of abuse that could possibly result from desperation for financial renumeration, the Great 1992 Ghana constitution prosciribed that the president shall be paid by the Ghanaian tax payer till death. The constitution then bard the former head of state from any role that will compromise the sovereign pride of Ghana. Now some animals in Kenya are calling our former president names for doing the dirty work of the British Commonwealth for her. So instead of hauling insults at the British, the insults are directed at the Ghanaian.

There is nothing wrong with a very young and energetic person like former President Mahama taking up more challenging roles in the world affair. The question is, does the ECOWAS lack anything meaningful to keep individuals president Mahama busy, than turning our honourable president into an idle errand boy of the colonial masters? Is this not demanding on us the pressure of creating the kind of ECOWAS that wrestle up key role in the world affairs for her citizens, than having each person ending up doing others dirty job for them?

It is time we in West Africa start taking our destiny into our own hands. If John Kerry or Marietje Schaake will only earn their pride in working for their Union or the United Nation but never for any former colonial masters, under the mantra of self determination, why must any ECOWAS citizen be different? Since our self determination is about every West African, let’s intensify our demand to have every West African electorate voting directly for his or her ECOWAS MP. I just wonder why an average West African is finding it difficult to understand that the act of voting directly for an electorate’s representation, is the first step to self determination. The USA Senator and EU MEP Schaake are all directly elected members of their regional parliament, while the indirectly elected members of ECOWAS Parliament is simply hopeless.

Democracy is the only means available for us to free ourselves from the remaining vestiges of conolialism and imperialism. These ills are real and manifest in the daily pathetic lives of the majority of our people. The Europeans have use democracy to change the course of their fate, into a modern viable self determining vehicle. Democracy has proven that the most complicated problem of self determination, can be overcome when everyone is free to elect their representatives directly. If the direct voting has worked for Europe, it shall definitely work for West Africa. It’s time we stop voting for those who vote on our behalf to the ECOWAS Parliament. Let’s vote directly for who we want to represent us in ECOWAS parliament.

Contact ECRA with the email below for us to send you our Mission on PDF attachment. The copy of almost 30 Pages is free of charge. If we all know, then the journey will be easier!!!

Kofi Ali Abdul-Yekin

Chairman ECRA
(ECOWAS Citizens Right Advocates)
Pls. Contact us for a PDF free copy of our Mission.


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