NIGERIA’S ROLE IN THE FORMATION OF ECOWAS IN 1975
TABLE OF CONTENT
CHAPTER ONE: NIGERIA’S ROLE IN THE ESTABLISHMENT
Background of study - - - -
Ideas behind the initiative - - -
Controversy over Nigeria initiative - -
Prospect of the community - - - -
CHAPTER TWO: STRUCTURE AND AIMS OF ECOWAS
Structure of ECOWAS - - - - -
The authority of heads of states and governments -
The council of ministers - - - - - -
The secretariat - - - - - -
The tribunal - - - - - - - -
The technical and specialized commission of ECOWAS -
The ECOWAS fund - - - - -
Aims of ECOWAS - - - - -
CHAPTER THREE: THE IMPACT OF ECOWAS IN THE SUB-REGION
Successes of ECOWAS - - - - -
Gain derivable from ECOWAS - - - -
Conclusion - - - - -
Bibliography - - - -
NIGERIA’S ROLE IN THE ESTABLISHMENT OF ECOWAS
Background of Study
There had been various attempts made for economic cooperation and integration in the West African sub-region. The first attempt at economic cooperation was during the colonial era. Generally speaking, cooperation within the West African sub-region has been organized along distinct linguistic lines inherited when the colonial state gave way for independence.1 The major groups are French-speaking countries comprises Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, Guinea, Togo, Benin, Ivory Coast, Niger, Burkina Faso and Cameroon and the English-Speaking ones Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Gambia. One significant feature of the two groups is the unique influence, which the cultural, social, economic and political systems of the metropoles have had on the West African States. 2
In the colonial days, two major kinds of financial zones were typical of the West African Countries. They were the monetary areas and the currency unions.
Apart from the financial organization among West African countries, during the colonial era there were other institutional arrangements for cooperation. In the English speaking countries, one institution involved was the West African Court of Appeal (WACA), whose jurisdiction covered the four former British colonies of Nigeria, Gold Coast (Ghana), Sierra Leone and Gambia.3 Also, there was a common West African Territories (Unitransport) Order-in-Council promulgated in 1946 under which a West African Air Transport Authority (WAATA) and a West African Airways Corporation (WAAC) were established. Other similar institutions of common service to the colonies were the West African Council for Medical Research, West African Institute for Oil Palm Research (WAIFOR), the West African Institute of Trapanosomsiasis (WATIRA), the West African Institute of Economic and Social Research (WAISER), the West African Cocoa Research Institute and the West African Examination Council (WAEC) Each of these served as a research centre for conducting basic studies in the respective areas of interest.4
Within the French-speaking countries, on the other hand, Air Afrique was established to improve and harmonize air transport.5
These institutes set up under the colonial system were destroyed because of attainment of independence by West African states. The first institution to be disintegrated was the West African Currency Board.6 This resulted when Ghana became independent in 1957, it established its own central Bank issuing the Ghana pound, which was in turn replaced by the Cedi.7 The attainment of independence by each member country led to the dissolution of the West African Court of Appeal which was replaced by supreme courts in the respective countries. In rapid succession, other common services organizations disintegrated as a result of Ghana's withdrawal from these organizations after independence. Ghana lead in• withdrawing from these organizations was followed by Nigeria and later Sierra Leone and Gambia who at independence established their own national organizations and institutions.8
Areas of cooperation for some time after independence generally tended to follow the economic and political dichotomy existing between the French-speaking and English- speaking countries, the only exception being the short-lived political union of Ghana, Guinea and Mali at the turn of the I 960s.9 The first such co-operation was the convention of association signed in 1963 with the European Economic Community (EEC) by all former French territories including those in West Africa (except Guinea).10 under the first Yaoundé convention for economic, technical, financial and trade cooperation. Tariff preferences were granted in both directions on a reciprocal basis.11
Within the sub-region itself, the post-independence era witnessed a variety of economic groupings and associations aimed at preserving historical, commercial and economic links. This was especially true among the Francophone countries. The first of such groups was the West African Customs Union (UDEAO), established in June 1959 by Ivory Coast, Senegal, Benin, Mauritania, Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso. The grandiose program the union set out to achieve was the cause of' its undoing right from the start. 12
Despite all these form of cooperation within the West Africa sub-region nothing really concrete came out of it because of some reasons:
There were absence of resources to execute the programs;
There were practical difficulties or co-coordinating policies and objectives, coupled with political friction which inhibited any form of cooperation;
Also there were unions within the union. For example, in 1959 four members of the UDEO (the Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Niger and Benin) also established the Council de I’ entente that was to grow to be another economic grouping.
These hindered the economic cooperation in West Africa sub region.13
Nigeria's Role in the Formation of the Economic Cooperation of West African State
The history of Nigeria's initiative in the formation of a West African economic community dates back only to the middle of 1970. Admittedly before then, she had talked of the formation of an economic community in West Africa, and had actively participated in the series of conferences sponsored by (ECA) between 1960 and 1968 which culminated in the Monrovia submit meeting of fourteen West African countries; Dahomey, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo and Upper Volta. On 24 April 1968 these Heads of State signed a protocol establishing a West African regional grouping that was to be formed immediately by the member states.14 This would be followed later by a free factor movement to establish the common market.
However, more realistically, Nigeria and Guinea were chosen by the summit to study and report priority area for cooperation between the members. By early 1969, they had reported, identifying the following field or cooperation in descending order of importance.
Trade, Transport and communication, education, cultural exchange and information;
Research and health; and
Energy and heavy industries. 15
The report was not considered: This was partly because the leadership of pan West African economic cooperation then fell to William Tubman 16 who lacked sufficient muscle to bring other West African states together and partly because Nigeria was in the midst or gruesome civil war too in 1967 until early in 1970.
But shortly after the war Nigeria took some bold steps to rekindle the enthusiasm for West African economic community. Late in 1970, the then Federal military government sent letters to all the other West African government asking for their cooperation in an attempt to form a West African economic community. To this end it suggested that a conference of all the West African states should he held to consider the Guinea-Nigeria report. 17 One of the main reasons for' Nigeria’s swift rapprochements alter the end of hostilities with Ivory Coast who, in 1969 had recognized Biafra, was the need to secure the support of the Abidjan government. However, only a few West African countries showed enthusiasm for the Nigerian proposals. Undaunted by this, General Gowon, then Head of the federal military government, followed up the official letters with personal diplomacy. Between mid- 1970 and early 1972 he visited all the other countries except Ivory Coast which had been visited by Dr. Okoi Arikpo, the then Commissioner for External Affairs. In the communiqués issued at the end of General Gowon’s visits to these countries it was stated that agreement had been reached in principle on the formation of a West African Economic Community.18
Yet nothing concrete came out of the visits. There was no prospect of a West African Summit conference that was held to discuss the question. Nigeria grew impatient, especially alter Britain, Demark and Ireland, had by early 1972 successfully negotiated an arrangement to join the European Economic Community (EEC) on 1st January 1973. All this led to some rethinking in Lagos, tactics were changed first, instead of waiting until the other West African States were ready to act, the federal Military Government decided that a modest arid realistic approach should be adopted through the formation of any Economic Association with any state or group or states in West Africa, Nigeria and Togo signed a treaty in April 1972 establishing what president Eyadema called the embryo or a West Africa Economic Community since then a number of meetings at both official and ministerial levels had taken place between the two countries.19
Secondly, the Nigerian government decided to work out joint development project that could be undertaken with the cooperation of other West African States, instead of trying to work for the abolition of Tariff and non-Tariff barriers between them. It purchased of 10 percent (estimated at about $350,000) of the shares in the iron ore company, Mifergui Nimbe and Simandou or Guinea in June, 1973 was in line with this new approach. 20
Thirdly, Nigeria has been committed to establishing an all West African Forum for working out detail of projects that can be sponsored jointly by more than one country. To this end a joint Nigerian -Togolese delegations visited the capitals of the twelve other member states in late July and August 1973 to present their proposal for an Economic Community. The delegation was said to have been warmly received in all the places visited including Ivory Coast. At the end of the month long tour all the West African Governments agreed to hold a meeting of ministerial level in Lome from 12th to 16th November, 1973.21 But because some Francophone West African leaders were to meet President Pompidou in Paris on 12th November The ministerial meeting had to be postponed.
Fourthly, the signing of a bilateral trade pact with many West African countries had now been given greater prominence than the task of working out a West African Free Trade Area. By the second half of 1973, Nigeria had trade agreements with ten out of the thirteen other West African States.22
At an unofficial level also Nigeria has been taking steps towards the formation of an Economic Community. Thus, the Gowon government had been encouraging the Nigerian chamber of Commerce, industry and Mines to spearhead the formation of a Federation of West African Chambers of Commerce and Industry.23
The president of Nigerian Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Mines the late chief Henry Fejemorokun, was its first president and Lagos was made its headquarters. The meeting of the federation in Accra in October 1972 was attended by representatives of the Chambers of Commerce of Ghana, Sierra Leone, Gambia, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Upper Volta, Benin and Nigeria. Among the resolutions were those calling on all West African Governments to establish directs telecommunications links with one other, to review their various immigration and customs laws, to facilitate free movements of goods and services and to harmonize industrial policies in the region in order to avoid unnecessary duplication in the name of nationalism and unrealistic self- sufficiency. 24 The question is why Nigeria has taken all these steps for the realizations of this project? What is she likely to gain? This brings us to the ideas behind the initiative.
Ideas behind the Initiative
The main ideas behind Nigeria's initiative for ECOWAS arc political, security and economic consideration. For political reasons, Nigeria wanted an arrangement that will put an end to colonial division in West Africa. Furthermore, she believes that such a step will put an end to border dispute and will be an important contribution to African Unity. Moreover according to Dr. Arikpo the federal military government held the firm views that in order to strengthen the bargain position of African States with the EEC, there must be West African Economic Community through which all the states in the region could speak with one voice. It must be acknowledged that, Nigeria played all important role in bringing all African States together to form a common front in their negotiations with the European common market. 25
For security reason, Nigeria does not want to be surrounded by small countries that are heavily dependent on extra- African powers, especially France, for their military, political and economic survival. It could be recalled that France has put some measure in place to prevent the working of ECOWAS, this was the Economic Cooperation of the Francophone states which has the cardinal policy of the French government to counter-balance the weight of Nigeria, also the during Nigeria civil war, the French government granted diplomatic recognition to the Biafra State. 26 It is firmly believed in Nigeria that as long as there are clients, West Africa States closely tie to European powers, Nigeria's own security cannot be, assured. Such state can be either manipulated against Nigeria or used as a staging ground by foreign powers who wish to cause disaffection and confusion in the country. The experience of the civil war when Benin (formerly Dahomey) was used briefly in 1969 for airlifting arm's and relief supplies to Biafra brought home this point to the Nigerian leaders more clearly than ever. So, one of the ideas behind Nigeria's intense campaign for the formation of a West African Economic Community was to reduce dependence by African states on extra - African countries. Largely for security reasons Nigeria since 1970 has taken certain measures such as granting an interest free loan of £ 1 million to Dahomey in 1972 for rehabilitating road between Idiroko and Porto Novo. The sum of £2 million was offered to Benin in 1971 to pay for imports from Nigeria, several occasions Dr. Arikpo has said that for security reasons the federal military government would be prepared to assist neighbouring states in establishing joint development projects.27
Controversy over Nigeria Initiative
From the above explanation, it is clear that Nigeria played a prominent role in the economic cooperation for West Africa Sub-region. This novel idea, which was welcomed by almost all West African States, had it controversy in Nigeria.
There was controversy in Nigeria about the economic justification for spearheading the formation of a West African Economic Community. Dr. Gerald Helleiner in .1962 had argued that Nigeria would gain little or nothing economically from a West African Common Market.28 Also in April 1973, Dr. Dotun Philips expressed a similar view.29 Dr. Adebayo Adedeji, then federal Commissioner for Economic Development and later the champion of West African Economic Community, argued in 1970 that Nigeria was likely to lose than it will gain. These arguments were valid in view of the economic situation of the co untries in the area. First, all fourteen (fifteen in 1976) countries are underdeveloped. Secondly, all except Nigeria and Ghana had in 1970 a population of fewer than Six million. Nigeria alone had about 60 percent of the total population of the fourteen countries. Thirdly, the bulk of their trade has remained with Europe and North America. Nigeria trade with the other West African countries has not shown any substantial Increase since independence.30
In spite of all this, however, there are those who believe that some economic benefits to Nigeria could be derived from an economic community in West Africa. The federal military government from 1970 onwards held the view that Nigeria would benefit economically from such a Pan-West African economic arrangement. Dr. Adebayo Adedeji argued in 1972 that the formation of an Economic Community of West Africa would give Nigeria access to some raw materials that are either not available in the country or available in poor quality. For example, the proposed iron Ore steel industry would have to rely mainly on imported iron Ore, from Liberia and Guinea. It was for these reasons that Nigeria signed an agreement with Guinea to invest on $350,000 in her Iron Ore mining company, in return for which Nigeria's company was guaranteed one million tons of good quality iron ore every year. It has also be argued that savings in foreign exchange could be made if Nigeria and other West African States could set up joint industrial projects such as the proposed cement industrial complex in Togo where there is an abundance of limestone. It is also believed that as the pace of industrialization increases it will be easier for Nigeria to sell some of her industrial products under a West African economic arrangement. This presumption is what cannot really be ascertained. In the main time, Nigeria continued her effort which eventually resulted in the formation of Economic Community of West African States in May, 1975.31
There were also some hindrances militating against the formation of ECOWAS, which Nigeria has to tackle for the realization of her dreams. This brings us to the prospect of the community.
Prospect of the Community
The prospects in the early 1970s were not all that good. In spite of Nigeria's generosity and restraint, she remains suspect in many West African capitals with her vast economic resources and her enormous political and military strength, Nigeria was seen in many of the West African States as working for domination of her smaller neighbours. This impression has persisted despite Dr. Arikpo's statement in a radio broadcast in Cotonou in March 1973 that such a view was false and pernicious. In spite of the apparent goodwill that the joint Nigerian - Togolese delegation received in all the West African capital visited in July and August 1973, nothing substantial came out of it until later. Even the ministerial meeting of all the West African countries planned for 12 to 16 November 1973 could not be, held because of French government intervention which resulted in a meeting between the leaders of most or the francophone West African states and President Pompidou in Paris on 12 November, 1973.32
Nothing concrete followed the signing by Nigeria and Togo of the treaty of April 1st 1972 in Lome establishing the nucleus of a West Africa Economic Community, as was lamented by the Nigerian Daily times. Togo attended the OCAM (Organization Commune Africane Et Malagache (OCAM) meeting in Dakar, in August, 1973 to breathe life into the dying, French-Inspired, exclusively Francophone Organization. Furthermore, Togo still remains within the France Zone by means of which France exercises tight control over her former colonies in West Africa except Guinea and Mauritania. President Eyadema's call for the adjustment of the parity or the French franc and the Communate Financiere Africaine (CFA) Franc during President Pompidou's visit to Togo in November 1972 was fiercely resisted by the French president who warned the Togolese president of the dire consequences that would follow such a move. This kept Togolese leader quiet.33
In other Francophone states, French government exercises her influence over them. It was no secret that the French cardinal policy was to encourage close cooperation among its former West African colonies to counterbalance the weight of Nigeria. In pursuit of this policy, the French inspired the establishment or an exclusively Francophone West African Economic Community between 1971 and 1972.
Moreover, there was lack of political will for an economic community on the part of some West African States. Only eight of' the fourteen countries attended the meeting of' the federation of West African Chambers of Commerce in Accra in October 1973. Most West African leaders were still jealous of their independence and suspicious of one another. During the 1970s, it has become difficult for all the countries in the region to abolish their Tariff and non-Tariff barriers to trade.
Another obstacle to the formation of a West African Economic Community is the existence or different currencies. Most or which arc inconvertible. All attempts to work out a payment union agreement between the fourteen West African states under the auspices or the Economic Commission for Africa in 1964 were unsuccessful.
In spite of these problem, however, and partly as a result of Nigeria's diplomacy partly because of the successful completion of the first Lome convention which associated the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries to the EEC in February 1975, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was formally established by fifteen West African States in Lagos in May 1975.
Since the formation of ECOWAS, the Nigerian Government has continued to provide impetus for its effectiveness. A series of meetings at summit, ministerial and official levels have been held since May 1975.34
S.B. Falegen, “West African Organizations for Co-operation”, in F.C. Edozien and E. Osagie (eds.), Topics on Economic Integration of West Africa (Ibadan; Ibadan University Press, 1982), p. 57.
Ibid . p. 59
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