Thursday, June 8, 2017 9:51 pm
Former External Affairs Minister, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, said on Thursday that the recent admission of Morocco into ECOWAS was meant to whittle down Nigeria’s influence in the sub-regional body, and by extension, the world.
“Having failed to find any rational benefit to ECOWAS by expanding membership to Morocco, I can only conclude that the move is to whittle down Nigeria’s influence in ECOWAS.
“And by extension, in the world, as Nigeria’s status as a regional power is facilitated by its role in ECOWAS.
“Nigeria has only one option. Let the West African Heads of State and Presidents drop this whole issue of expansion to the Mediterranean,’’ Akinyemi said in a statement in Lagos.
“Or Nigeria should serve notice that it would terminate, not suspend, but terminate her membership of ECOWAS,’’ he said.
According to him, this issue is the biggest challenge to Nigeria’s Foreign Policy since the civil war.
Akinyemi noted that Morocco’s admission into ECOWAS would now make her benefit from the Arab League quota, as well as from the West African quota.
“The United Nations, the African Union and all international institutions now use the concept of regionalism in the distribution of both appointive and elective posts.
“ECOWAS cannot unilaterally expand the boundary of West Africa to the Mediterranean,’’ he stressed.
The Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, earlier in the week announced that it had in principle, approved Morocco’s membership application despite the country being in North Africa.
But ECOWAS leaders who met in Liberia earlier in the week said the implications of its membership still needed to be considered before Morocco could formally join.
King Mohammed VI was not at the summit because Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been invited.
Morocco’s application was filed after it rejoined the African Union in January.
The North African nation left the continental body in 1984 after it recognised the independence of Western Sahara.
Morocco regards Western Sahara as part of its historic territory and has spent much of the last three decades trying to strengthen ties with Europe, at the expense of relations with Africa.
Morocco’s King Mohammed VI is now strengthening his country’s ties with the rest of Africa.
Ivory Coast President Alasanne Ouattara has confirmed that the decision had been agreed in principle but the details still had to be worked out.
Morocco, along with Tunisia which is seeking observer status with the organisation and Mauritania, which wants to return to the body, will be invited to the next meeting of heads of state in Togo in December, a senior ECOWAS source said.
ECOWAS is made up of 15 West African nations, none of which shares a border with Morocco.
Members enjoy free trade and movement of people. King Mohammed VI last week announced he would not be attending the summit in Liberia, because of the presence of Israel’s prime minister.
Morocco does not have diplomatic ties with Israel. Mr Netanyahu addressed West African leaders on Sunday saying: “Israel is coming back to Africa and Africa is coming back to Israel.
“I believe in Africa. I believe in its potential, present and future. It is a continent on the rise.’’
While in Liberia for the summit, his bodyguards scuffled with those of Togo’s President Faure Gnassingbe, according to reports in the Israeli media.
This trip comes nearly a year after Mr Netanyahu was in East Africa as part of his efforts to strengthen ties between the continent and Israel.