Leaders from Ecowas gathered for a round table discussion as ECOWAS. Top in the agenda :
West African migrant crises in Libya
Militancy in the Sahel
Nigeria’s President in his address urged members of the regional body to reaffirm their efforts towards the return of stranded migrants in North Africa. After hours of discussion the leaders agreed to uphold political stability while aiding in the peaceful transfer of power in Guinea Bissau.
President Buhari announced the gradual withdrawal of Nigerian troops from peace keeping in Guinea Bissau, calling for independent elections. He described concerns that the political deadlock is taking its toll on the people and the resources of member states, particularly troops from contributing countries to the ECOWAS mission in Guinea Bissau. He strongly urged all the stake holders in Guinea Bissau to respect their undertakings and plans to resolve the pokitical pass.
This is where the good stuff ends…..
In a surprise twist, leaders of ECOWAS have officially agreed in principle to accept Morocco–s bid for membership.
Now this is beyond stunning. Almost hard to believe really.
Morocco arrogantly left the OAU in 1984 because members voted to recognize the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, as the Polisario Front calls the territory.
To add insult to injury, in 1987 Morocco applied to join the European Communities ( the precursor to the present dat European Union). Of course the application was rejected on the grounds that Morocco was not considered to be a European country and hence could not join.
It is good to be back home after having been away for so long.
Those were the first words of Moroccan King Mohamed VI in a speech at the African Union Summit in February.
The speech came after avast majority of the AU member states voted to re-admit Morocco to the continental bloc after going rogue for 33 years.
But why is Morocco, a relatively wealthy north african country seeking membership in a West African Economic and Military Bloc?
Enshrined in the ECOWAS Charter is a geographic membership criterion. This alone disqualifies the north African state from membership. Then talk of trade, the geography and lack of robust transnational infrastructure makes trade between Morooco and ECOWAS nearly impossible or prohibitively expensive.
Also the European Union is Morocco’s biggest trading partner, constituting 55.7% of its trade with its near neighbour Spain and former colonial power France being the biggest beneficiaries. Besides trade lets not forget that Morocco is a member of the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU), which is a five country trade agreement with Algeria, Libya, Mauritania and Tunisia.
Add to that , Morocco has signed almost 1,000 agreements and treaties with various African countries since 1999. Moroccan banks have expanded through out Africa with a presence in 20 countries -more so than Nigeria and South Africa combined. The country’s government owned airliner Royal Air Maroc is one of Africa’s biggest airlines.
Nigeria and Ghana are just about the only two significant Anglophone countries in a predominantly Francophone region. The economic prowess of Nigeria and Ghana and Nigeria’s hard and soft power is what tilts the balance in favour of English speaking West Africa, and is perhaps the only reason tiny Anglophone States like Liberia and S-Leone have a voice.
The admission of a quasi francophone country like Morocco with an economy in the same league as Nigeria’s and a more advanced and capable military will for the first time since the creation of ECOWAS tilt the balance of power towards French West Africa. Let’s not forget the Western Sahara issue too.
The geography also means freedom of movements across Member states impractical with Morocco. This is a win win for Morocco. A home run. Nigeria is practically ceding its leadership role to Morocco, changing the regional identity from Anglophone to Francophone West Africa. This could very well be the end of Nigeria as we know it.