The Politics of Regional Integration in West Africa
Regional integration processes are today, more than ever before, driven by the pre-eminence of the forces of globalisation in the post Cold War international system. As a result, no part of the world or section of humanity would like to be left behind or marginalised by other regions, or to be classified among the ‗wretched of the earth‘. Thus successful integration will enable weaker regions and states to properly equip themselves for the fierce competition among regions and states in the 21st Century. The rest of this section discusses pertinent issues on how to consolidate the gains made by ECOWAS in the last thirty six years to move the regional integration agenda forward.
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“Reviewing the 50+ Years of Women’s Participation in Politics in Nigeria”
Nigeria attained its independence from the British in 1960 and celebrated its 50th anniversary on October 1, 2010. Fifty years down the line the statistics of women‟s representation in politics and decision making remains abysmally poor. No woman has ever occupied the position of President or Vice President neither has any been elected governor of any of the thirty six states. In fifty years, Nigeria has had only seven female deputy governors. The highest representation women have had in the Federal Executive Council is 20% in the 2007 – 2011 Cabinet.
The highest number women have attained in the Senate is nine out of the one hundred and nine members i.e. 8.3%. Worse still, in the House of Representatives of three hundred and sixty members, there are only twenty seven women, constituting a paltry 7.5%.Out of sixty three political parties, in 2010 only one, the United National Party for Development (UNPD) has a female Chairperson.
Guinea At a Crossroads: Opportunities for a More Robust Civil Society
The economic, social and political crisis in Guinea is a source of concern for the whole of West Africa. The Guinean people are caught between hope for a new era after years of misrule and fear of how the military leaders may conduct themselves. Meanwhile, “the mood on the street is hardening against the junta”, says Richard Moncrieff, International Crisis Group’s (ICG) West Africa Project Director. “Guineans are desperate for democratic change and an end to economic misery, while security forces are ready to use lethal force to remain in control. More trouble is likely unless combined domestic and international pressure is applied to find a sustainable solution to the problem”
PROMOTING YOUTH PARTICIPATION IN LOCAL GOVERNANCE: “THE ABUSUA FOUNDATION EXPERIENCE”
Youth, as a concept, varies from culture to culture and from society to society.Youth, or young people, form a significant reservoir of human resource potential in Africa. The youth constitute about 30 per cent of the world‟s inhabitants and half of the populations of countries in Africa. Notably, they account for over 30 per cent of Africa‟s labour force. Yet about 20 per cent of Africa‟s young people are unemployed. On the one hand, they are a potential resource for sustainable economic growth and social development. Contrariwise, they have proven to be a source of social tension and conflict when left disengaged and alienated from the conditions necessary for their development as productive citizens.
ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENTS: REFLECTION DOCUMENT FOR CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS
African, Caribbean and Pacific countries (ACP) and the European Union (EU) interact in various ways. Trade is at the centre of this relationship and/or interaction. A total of seven conventions f cooperation have been signed to regulate the relationship that exists between the ACP states and the EU. These include the Yaoundé (1964 and 1968), Lomé (1975, 1979, 1984 and 1990) and Cotonou (2000) conventions. The emergence of these conventions inaugurated a new approach to the north-south partnership which associates trade preferences with development aid. The overriding condition of these conventions is mainly free access to the European market for exports from ACP countries. This system, on one hand, is “preferential” because it favours ACP countries more than other members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). On the other hand,the system is “non-reciprocal” or “unilateral”, since the advantages that the ACP countries enjoy cannot be returned.
SIERRA LEONE: CIVIL SOCIETY AND THE 2007 ELECTIONS
Civil society activism in Sierra Leone has a long history; indeed as an integral part of democratic expression in a modern state, it is probably the oldest in English‐speaking West Africa. Sierra Leone produced West Africa’s first newspaper, the Royal Gazette and Sierra Leone Advertiser, in 1801, as well as the region’s first lawyers and modern legal system, all in the nineteenth century. These two core institutions – legal and journalism – have been active in the country throughout its modern existence, surviving the colonial period, one‐party state, coups, and a brutal ‘rebel’ war; and sometimes acting, in the absence of viable political opposition/parties, as representatives of ordinary, ‘voiceless’ people.