Regional Civil Society Delegation Engages ECOWAS Commission on Promotion of Democracy, Peace, and Security in West Africa

Regional Civil Society Delegation Engages ECOWAS Commission on Promotion of Democracy, Peace, and Security in West Africa

Press Statement

For Immediate Release

13 March 2024

Regional Civil Society Delegation Engages ECOWAS Commission on Promotion of Democracy, Peace, and Security in West Africa

[Abuja, 11th March 2024] – Following the Regional West Africa Civil Society Strategy Meeting in Ghana in November 2023, regional and national civil society organisations (CSOs) have diligently pursued the implementation of key resolutions from the meeting aimed at strengthening democracy and fostering improved state-citizen relations across West Africa.

Central to these efforts is the commitment to enhance the role of civil society movements in strengthening early warning systems to prevent military coups. Additionally, there is a strong emphasis on capacity-building within civil society, monitoring transition processes, studying and documenting regional integration best practices, engaging donors to implement tailored funding mechanisms, and fostering dialogue with ECOWAS to ensure active participation and alignment of efforts towards restoring democracy in transition countries.

In light of these initiatives, the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) with partners—West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP), West Africa Democracy Solidarity Network (WADEMOS), and the Media Foundation for West Africa (MfWA)—have been actively engaged in bringing the outcomes of the Accra meeting to fruition. Through collective and independent initiatives, they have collaborated with relevant stakeholders, including state and non-state actors, towards fostering democratic governance, protecting human rights, and promoting regional stability in West Africa.

On 11 March 2024, a delegation comprising the WACSI, WANEP, WADEMOS, and MfWA paid a courtesy call on the Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS) of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), His Excellency Ambassador, Dr. Abdel-Fatau Musa, in Abuja, Nigeria.

Led by Nana A. Afadzinu, Executive Director of WACSI, the visit aimed to foster collaborative strategies towards strengthening democracy, peace, and security across West Africa.

The meeting also highlighted the vital role of regional organisations such as WACSI, WANEP, WADEMOS, and MfWA in the promotion of democracy, peace, and security in West Africa. Furthermore, it recalled the past attempts by the West Africa Civil Society Forum (WACSOF) to serve as a regional forum, albeit unsuccessful. However, there was renewed optimism as the Commissioner for PAPS reaffirmed ECOWAS’ commitment to fill the void by facilitating the implementation of the ECOWAS Civil Society Organisations Consultative Committee (ECOSOCC). This initiative, expected to commence by December 2024, aims to harness and galvanise citizen input into the work of the ECOWAS Commission.

During the discussions, ECOWAS also shared its topmost initiatives focusing on regional counterterrorism efforts, tackling the farmer-herder crisis, and addressing climate change in the Sahel. Additionally, attention was drawn to the pressing issues of piracy, illegal fishing and insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea; human, drug and arms trafficking; and the dumping of toxic waste in regional waterways.

Agreements reached during the meeting include the commitment by the Commissioner to hold, on regular basis, weekly press briefings to convey ECOWAS’ narrative and combat disinformation and misinformation. CSOs pledged to collaborate with ECOWAS in popularising the five pillar priorities contained in Vision 2050 to foster its ownership among community citizens. Furthermore, PAPS agreed to utilise CSOs as a sounding board to access the people and incorporate their voices into vital conversations. The meeting is one of its kind and serves as an enduring engagement platform and consultative channel for both parties.

CSOs operating in specific areas, including human and drug trafficking (in Senegal/The Gambia), maritime security and piracy (in Nigeria, Togo, Benin, Ghana), climate change, terrorism (in the Sahel), and round issues of weak institutions, cross-border insecurity, and ethnic subversion of democracy (in the Mano River Union), are urged to coalesce into clusters in order to better engage ECOWAS and enhance its responses to emerging challenges.

The meeting represents a significant milestone in the evolving partnership between regional civil society and ECOWAS, underscoring a shared commitment to advancing democracy, peace, and security for the collective good and prosperity of West Africa.

Signed:

West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI)

West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP)

West Africa Democracy Solidarity Network (WADEMOS)

Media Foundation for West Africa (MfWA)

-END-

For media enquiries, please contact:

Ms. Omolara Balogun

Head, Policy Influencing and Advocacy

West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI)

Email: obalogun@wacsi.org

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FIIFI BOATENG

Fiifi is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Communications and Information Officer at the West Africa Civil Society Institute. He joined the Institute in December 2020.

NANCY KANKAM KUSI

Nancy is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Programme Officer in the Knowledge Management unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute. She joined the Institute in January 2021.

AGNES ADWOA ANIMA

Agnes is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Head of the Administration unit in the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in October 2021.

DORIS ODEI

Doris holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social sciences (Economics and Sociology) from the University of Cape Coast. She is passionate about impacting young lives hence co-founded Impart Foundation. A non-profit organization which seeks to empower young lives through education, technology and entrepreneurship.

PRINCE AKOWUAH

Prince Akowuah is a Ghanaian and currently the Programme Assistant in the Translation Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.

MAXWELL APENTENG

Maxwell Apenteng is a Ghanaian and joined WACSI in September 2010. He provides gardening and janitorial services at the Institute.

GEORGE ADU-MINTAH

George Adu-Mintah is a Ghanaian and currently the Protocol Assistant/Driver at the West Africa Civil Society (WACSI). He joined the Institute in October 2006.

IBRAHIM KWAKU GBADAGO

Ibrahim Kwaku Gbadago is a Ghanaian. He joined the Institute in 2008 and provides janitorial services and assisting the institute's errands. Before joining the Institute, he worked at the Palestinian embassy in Accra, Ghana.

RUTH YAKANA

Ruth Yakana is from Cameroon and currently the Receptionist at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.

BETHEL KWAME BOATENG

Bethel is a Ghanaian. He provides technical and IT related support to the Institute. He joined the Institute in October 2006.

WHITNAY SEGNONNA

Whitnay Segnonna holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Management from the University of Benin. With 2 years of experience, she has a strong knowledge of organizational and project management. Combined with her bilingualism, she is very passionate about her work. She joined WACSI as Project Assistant on Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) for the Capacity Development Unit.

STELLA YAWA WOWOUI

Stella Yawa Wowoui holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Translation Studies. She has a perfect grasp of both French and English, as well as an intermediate level in Spanish. She is currently working as a Project Assistant on the Techsoup Project.

KWAME ASANTE

Kwame is an experienced IT Consultant/Software Developer. He is skilled in Web Applications Development, Digital Security, Database Management, Digital Marketing and Brand Management. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Information Technology and is a Microsoft Programme Alumni. He is currently serving as a Marketing and IT Officer on the Techsoup Project.

GRACE AKPENE ZIGGAH

Grace Akpene Ziggah is a Togolese and currently the Logistics Officer and also assists in administration duties at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in June 2009.

LILLIAN DAFEAMEKPOR

Lilian Dafeamekpor is a Ghanaian and currently the Assistant to the Executive Director at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.

JOHN P. FRINJUAH

John P. Frinjuah has expertise and interests in civil society, international development, democracy and governance, conflict, crisis, and security. He has extensive experience working with civil society and international development organizations where he supported and managed research, programmes, and provided technical assistance on a variety of themes around public policy, governance, and development. He is an alumnus of the University of Ghana and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy - Tufts University in the United States, with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from two institutions respectively. John speaks English, French and several Ghanaian and regional West Africa languages.

GERVIN CHANASE

Gervin has extensive international development experience, including 5 years of policy advocacy and capacity building of grass root organisations. He has implemented over the years a combination of agriculture value chain, livelihood, food security and governance and rights programmes.
Prior to joining WACSI, Gervin worked on two USAID projects focusing on agriculture value chain development and governance in northern Ghana
Gervin holds a master’s degree in development & Governance from the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany as well as a Masters in Global Studies from the Universities of Vienna (Austria), Leipzig (Germany) and California (Santa Barbara), USA. He is passionate social justice and inclusion.

LEANDRE BANON

Leandre Banon, Beninese, joined WACSI in September 2014 as Capacity Development Programme Assistant. Since then, he has worked in various units within the Institute to support operational and institutional capacity strengthening programmes for civil society in the region. Currently serving as Capacity Development Programme Officer at WACSI, his main responsibilities involve designing, planning, implementing and monitoring capacity development programmes for civil society constituents and grouping across the West Africa. Leandre is a certified Change the Game Academy Programme Trainer. His background lies in the areas of economics and development planning.

SAMUEL APPIAH

Samuel Appiah is a Ghanaian and currently the Programme Officer in the Finance and Administrative Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). He joined the Institute in May, 2016.

JIMM CHICK FOMUNJONG

Jimm Chick Fomunjong, Cameroonian, joined WACSI in May 2018 as the Head of the Knowledge Management and Communication Units of the Institute. He has over ten years’ experience as a journalist and a development communications expert. He has a vast experience in supporting African organisations to strengthen their internal and external communications, building and sustaining relationships with the media and, leveraging on the power of social media to promote their mission. He is also excellent at supporting organisations to set up and operationalise functional communications and knowledge management systems. He has a deep passion and expertise in supporting Africans and African civil society organisations to document their praxis, share and learn from experiences documented from the African civil society sector.

FRANCK A. SOMBO

Franck Sombo is a development practitioner with the drive to lead self and others to influence productivity and efficiency. His work involves supporting organisations to develop strategic plans, design monitoring and evaluation systems, develop and use relevant performance measurement tools to track progress, assess organizational growth and institutionalise learning. Franck has eight years of experience working with WACSI where he currently serves as the Head, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning. His academic qualifications include Masters in Organisations’ and Projects’ Management, and in Business Sciences and a High National Diploma in Finance and Accounting.

Franck is a Fellow of the International Program for Development Evaluation Training (IPDET) and a graduate of the Graduate Training Institute (GTI) - Ghana with specialization in Strategic Management and Corporate Leadership. He has a rich experience in Project Management, Capacity Development, Strategic planning, Data Analytics, Monitoring and Evaluation, Training and Facilitation, Mentoring and Coaching among others.

OMOLARA T. BALOGUN

Omolara is a development practitioner and advocacy strategist with over 15 years of progressive experience in development programming targeted at strengthening civil society in West Africa.

She joined WACSI in November 2009 as a Regional Advocacy Consultant and later became the first Policy Advocacy Officer of the Institute in 2010.

She was promoted to Head of the Policy Influencing and Advocacy (PIA) Unit in 2015. As the Head of the PIA unit, Omolara offers strategic direction to the Institutes’ ambitions to connect and convene groups of organised and organic civil society actors; and influence regional and global discourses on crosscutting policy issues including—civil society regulations, sustainable development goals, civic space and enabling environment, aid effectiveness, gender equality, and civil society accountability.

Previously, Omolara served as a Programmes Associate with the Women in Peace and Security Network-Africa (WIPSEN-Africa), where she worked with her team to design and implement pan-African programmes on—multidimensional peace support operations and gender mainstreaming in security sector reform in Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.

She also served as a Service Development Marshal at TVQ Consulting Group, a customer service firm focused on designing strategic customer relationship and business growth plans for private and public financial institutions in Nigeria.

Omolara is a social justice advocate, a network weaver, and a convener. She has a postgraduate degree in Peace and Conflict Studies; a degree in International Relations and History, from the University of Ibadan and Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria respectively.

She also holds executive certificates in Behavioral Science in Public Policy from Harvard University Executive Education in Cambridge and in Citizen Advocacy from the Coady International Institute, St Francis Xavier University in Canada.

KWABENA KRODUAH

Kwabena Kroduah is a Ghanaian and currently heads the Finance Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). He joined the Institute in January 2008.

CHARLES KOJO VANDYCK

Charles currently serves as the Head of the Capacity Development Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). Charles has over 10 years of experience working in international development and social justice issues in Africa. Charles has expertise in strengthening civil society and public agencies including the design and implementation of governance and leadership programmes, development of knowledge pieces and policy advice. Charles was the founding Board Chair of Innovation for Change (i4C)-Hub Afrique, as well as the founding member of the International Consortium on Closing Civic Space (iCon), an initiative of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington DC. Charles currently serves as the Member of the Governing Board (Coordination Collective) of Africans Rising. He is a Member of the Development Studies Association, United Kingdom. Charles is a 2017 Stanford University Fellow for Nonprofit Leaders and a certified Change the Game Resource Mobilisation Trainer.

NANA ASANTEWA AFADZINU

Nana Afadzinu is a Ghanaian and currently serves as the Executive Director of the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in October 2010.