European Union
European Union

I spent time listening to EU (European Union) Commission President Jean-Claude Yunker delivering the State of the Nation’s Address, on Wednesday the 13th of September, 2017 and wonder whether the ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) Commission President Marcel De Seuzi, is also a president like his counterpart. I looked on admiring the glamour and grandour associated with the EU president’s speech while asking myself whether my ECOWAS Commission’s president is capable of commanding such kind of respect, enough to tickle down to all citizens of the Union. I even wonder whether any of the 377 million citizens of ECOWAS, including the elected and unelected officials of ECOWAS, understand the regional body to be a Union like the USA and EU are also unions of sovereign nations.

In my admiration of the EU chief’s state of the nation address and recalling Honourable Okudzato Ablakwa recently quoted as refering to the Faure Gnassinbge as the “ECOWAS Chief”, I wonder how naive those who are suppose to know better, do about our Union of the West African States. I wonder whether Mr. Okudzato was able to get time to watch and listen to President Junker’s state of the Union Address, enough to note and appreciated the use of the words “state” and “Union”, making the EU a super sovereign state, than the mere traditional sovereign states.

I however could not rob my mind of the fact that donkeys are traditionally donkeys, regardless to the level of education they acquired, for common sense to be common to them. So as I think about what could be making simple things impossible for the West Africa, I tried to free my mind from the general conception of “greediness and corruption” to be the cause of common sense being uncommon to the average West African. I could not help hoping for the miracle to transform all our members of Ghana parliament into emulating the German parliamentarians as those working toward a great ECOWAS. I hope the Ghanaian MPs are aware that whatever Junker and EU are doing, is to make their state of the Union address to be just as good as the American president delivering the US state of the Union address. One wonder whether all West Africans wish as I do, or I am the only one engulfed in the dreams of Greate people of the modern time.

In his 2017 State of the Union address, the President of the EU Commission Junker, painted a picture of an healthy and growing EU economy. The president spoke of the people of the 27 member states. He proudly painted a picture of a people with one common destiny, under his care as the executive head of the Union. He anchore is dream of the Union leading to his achievements under; protection, empowerment and defence. He gave a honest and detail vision of the EU, on a practical course of greatness, with every citizen in the centre of it all. What caught my attention in the speech of Yunker, is the account of the EU economic growth over the past five, years resulting in the creation of three hundred thousand (300,000) additional jobs to the figure at the beginning of the EU recession.
We all recalled the unending civil crisis that spread across most EU member states because thousands of citizens were losing their jobs. We recalled when Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain have to resort to financial bailouts. I remember very well the EU insisting that the bail out must be internally within the Union, than the assistance coming from the IMF (International Monetary Fund). I wonder whether the ECOWAS has a say on any of its member state opting to go to the IMF, while the EU clearly displayed to have such power over her member states.

I spent time thinking about this three hundred thousand jobs and how this could have transform the lives of West Africans, if the ECOWAS is able to create this number of new jobs in the last five years, within West Africa. This means one person out of every one thousand West Africans will be getting a job by the assistance of ECOWAS to the member states, if we go by 300 million population of ECOWAS. We are therefore talking about one person getting a job out of every one thousand workers, in addition to the number of people who have got jobs already.

It is fair to take the positive economic impact to the West African further, by informing us that, one person out of one thousand getting a gainfully employed job, means more tax to the state, more demand for school as each benefiting family will be sending the children to school, more housing demand to force up growth in the building industry and downward trend of poverty related crimes.
What we do not realise is, Economic growth leading to wealth creatiion and jobs, comes in three forms. The growth of an economy can be within. This mrean growth within the EU area as a result of demand from other parts of the Union. Examples of places like demand from the newly added Eastern European EU member states could result in growth across the Union with activities produced from different parts to where the final output are in demand. This form of growth by which all factors responsible for growth are endogenous, are rare.

The common form of growth is the combination of endogenous and exogenous. Here, the factors responsible are both internal and external, thereby impacting on the global economic growth and therefore, increases the general or global economy, in terms of wealth and jobs. This normal effect of economic relationship benefit developed economies more than they do to underdeveloped economies. So EU creation of wealth leading to three hundred thousand jobs is as a result of increasing the economic activities within the EU area without leading to loss of jobs outside the EU areas, any sognificant manner.

This other growth experience by an economy could be as a result of increase in wealth in one economy at the expense of other economies. Thus, the wealth in term of goods and serves created in the EU, leading to more people getting employed, lead to others in other economies losing their jobs.

We can not say the EU growth over the past five years leading to the creation of three hundred thousand jobs within Europe, is not a combination of the two effects above. It is also unfair to say that all the gained jobs in the EU is as a result of loss of jobs in ECOWAS or the African continent at large.

For example, if the EU renovation in car production from manual to electrical increase the demand across the EU and therefore increase in demand for labour, the mechanic in West Africa who is capable of repairing manual cars, ends up unemployed. Thus, the increase in demand for car due to change in techno.ogy has edged off the West African from the labour market.

The consolation here is, there will be increase in demand for the raw materials from West Africa for car making. So, the West Africans in the mining of produce use for car making will have jobs or even increase in number. The irony is, the demand push was instigated by the EU Common policy direction while the ECOWAS remain a passive recipient of whatever fate throw at them.

What is obvious is, the number of youths migration from West Africa through the dager opus conditions of the Sahara and across the deadly Mediterranean into Europe, is very alarming. We cannot also deny that given the ages of the migrants, the pull factor is not a quest for job and income that is lacking in West Africa.

In as much as it is not our place to blame our pathetic fate on the EU, we cannot pretend to be naive of the reality facing us. We cannot deny that Europe depends on West Africa as market for sourcing industrial raw material and a dumping ground for their surplus of finish industrial goods. We cannot deny that our colonial past defines our present relationship with Europe. We can not deny that the West African feel cheated and seek for a way out of the colonial entrapment. The West African live like a person who has a Shepard from outside the subregion.

It is without doubt that the past, is one thing and the future is another. The common thing to both is the time and what such time is use for. The two are different things due to differences in time but bridged together by how things are done. It is therefore helpful for the West African to appreciate the fact that a people have to change the way they do things, to change their fate, of the past and present. This means doing two different things for two different times, as doing the same thing for different times only end up in the same result. Time will then pass while real change has not taken place.

It is again helpful to appreciate the fact that change starts with change in the person which then translate into the change of the environment. So the change of a people, starts with change in the persons who make up the people. We are talking about change in the mindset of the individual, in how each perceive him or her self. This means, if the person is incapable of self identifying for what to change in themselves, then changing anything else becomes a big challenge. Since changing the person starts with self identification of the individual which forms the basis of what is to be change about the person, self redefinition is a key. So if the person is incapable of redefining themselves, then how can the individual understand the dynamics of things changing taround him enough, to adjust accordingly.

The West African is struggling with the task of self identity and self redefinition for the necessary adjustment needed for cultural transformation to take place across the region. The West African is in the state that makes it very easy for the past to continue to be defining the present and the future. So for the average West Africa, almost sixty years of independence from coloniazation has barely change anything. The past of the average West African is just as good as the present that makes no difference between the West African in a colony and the free West African. The past and the present, is like time remain still to the West African.

The West African is still entrap in his identity as the old ethno- tribal man and at best, the Ghanaian. In the words of ex-president John Dramani Mahama, the Ghanaian is failing in his “nationalism and patriotism”, implying the individual is compromising on his ethno-tribal nationalistic values as well as his patroitic values of Ghana. It sad the ex-president is incapable of realising that the difficulties associated with these two obsolate values, are responsible for why the Ghanaian of the Union of ECOWAS, is incapable of identifying with present day reality. It sad personalities like John Dramani Mahama are incapable of seeing the ECOWAS as the actual reality of the West African of today and the future.

One will wish the President of the ECOWAS Commssion will also be addressing the citizens of ECOWAS in the State of the Union Address. As the EU and the USA have their presidents delivering their respective states of their Union Addresses, telling their citizens how their economies are growing, I am yet to hear the voice of Marcel De Seuzi echoing on the air waves of West, from Abuja. I will rather, the president of the Union even tell us lies, as the directly elected members of the ECOWAS parliament sit in the open gallary listening to him.

It is sad that ours is not of humans. No one respect us, so they do not care about us. We do not even know whether the ones treating us like donkeys of ECOWAS are our own kinds or it is from the EU. While Yunker proudly assure the EU citizens that they come first in the heart and mind of the Union, the ECOWAS is treating us just as the ex-Colonisers did. We are nothing, so we are deny our right to even vote directly for our regional law makers, talkless of growing into those voting directly for the Union’s president in the future. We just have to sit down looking at the Europeans as they evolve further away from their past into the future. We are just left with the guilt of what to tell future generation when they ask for how it happened. We are expected to pretend we are simply dumb as history is repeating itself before our very eyes!!

In the words of Yunker, he said and I quote “Freedom is something that is not given to us. It is something we must fight for. So we are fighting for it”. Clearly the Europeans have taught for and earn their place in the ranks of humanity. They have faught for freedom from their own kind within the European territories and in the Union to be where they are today. They have faught to be respected and not to be taken for granted in simple matter of self determination.

My question is, do the average educated West African ever understand this? Is the ordinary West African understanding that the days of fighting for ethno-tribal and the ex-colony nation state values, are over? If the West African understanding that the fight for self determination in our Union is what is in vogue? If we do and the ECOWAS is denying us the freedom of voting directly for our regional law makers, who are we waiting for to give us our freedom? If we need this three hundred thousand jobs to be held back in West African, than allowing them to escape into Europe as uncaptured values, for our youths to be daring all sorts of danger in persuit of their birth rights, then we must fight for our direct vote in the election of our regional law makers. This battle can only be won at the regional level than the old ethno tribal basis.

The ECRA’s mission clearly explains the ‘why’ and ‘how’s’. Get yourself a free copy and know where we are heading with this. Stop waiting for another day, as tomorrow is for something else. Viva ECOWAS!!!

Kofi Ali Abdul-Yekin
ECOWAS Citizens Right Advocates


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