I am glad that Defense Minister Dominic Nitiwul has come public to boldly and honestly observe that Ghana may not be as safe as the erstwhile John Dramani Mahama-led regime of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) hoodwinked us into believing. My one great fear here, though, is that the radical push for ECOWAS unification, entailing the free movement of residents in the sub-region is likely to make our country even more vulnerable, unless a sophisticated and well-coordinated security system is also put in place (See “Ghana Remains Vulnerable to Terror Attacks – Defense Minister” MyJoyOnline.c om / Modernghana.com 6/14/17).
So far, most of the flashpoints for terrorist attacks remain largely in the Muslim-dominated Francophone areas of the sub-region, with the significant exception of Northeastern Nigeria, which is effectively either dominated and/or controlled by the Boko Haram terror network. In theory, the ECOWAS IDEA promises to make the West African sub-region easily the greatest economic power on the African continent. But, of course, as I just adumbrated, this is only in theory. In practice, the region is so development-deprived, with only Ghana and Nigeria being relatively the most economically advanced. And so it can scarcely be gainsaid that these two Anglophone and relatively more democratically stable countries are likely to increase their burdens with the free movement of citizens that the ECOWAS compact entails.
What this means is that the already high levels of unemployment and urban congestion are likely to be further compounded. The quality of life, particularly crime wave, which is much higher in Nigeria, the most populous country in the sub-region, is likely to take two trends, namely, either an exponential increase of the same or the remarkable diffusion of crime from Nigeria into other low-crime areas of the sub-region.
The distinctive national and cultural identities of the much smaller countries in the region are also likely to be impacted in very significant ways, positively and/or negatively. It is a change that may not necessarily augur well for the future development of the affected areas. It is therefore imperative that acceptable standards for all the nationalities involved in the ECOWAS PROJECT be established at all levels of endeavor, including but not limited to healthcare, education, economic, sociocultural and political, as well as judicial standards.
So far, the emphasis has been inordinately, but logically and naturally, placed on economics. This is far from an adequate basis upon which to launch a full-scale integration of the sub-region. The ECOWAS IDEA must continue to be put on the front-burner of the “To-Do List” of our leaders, but it must not be rushed into because currently our levels of democratic culture and governance, the indispensable basis of our unification, is very fragile and unacceptably diverse. For instance, some civic-minded Ghanaian critics, and one also presumes Nigerian critics as well, are questioning the wisdom of making the Dynastic President of Togo, Mr. Faure Eyadema, Chairman of ECOWAS.
Presently, I prefer to push the Danquaist ECOWAS Purview, which essentially advocates the progressive enhancement of our sense of Nationalism, in the traditional mode, until such time that our levels of civic consciousness, political responsibility and economic and cultural progress reach fairly uniform and geographically and geopolitically transcendent levels. Definitely not in this generation but in the foreseeable future, nevertheless.
Source: Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.