A high level policy dialogue on the implications of the proposed ascension of Morocco into ECOWAS was held in Abuja on the 24th of August, 2017, under the auspices of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES) - Nigeria Office and CDD. There were three sessions:
The implications of the ascension of Morocco to ECOWAS
*Foreign policy perspectives
There were participants from the diplomatic corps, civil society, academia, labour unions, etc. I chaired the second session on security. Some of the panelists are:
*Dr. Adewale Aderemi, Senior Lecturer, Department of Political Science, Lagos State University (LASU)
*Comrade Owei Lakemfa, Former NLC Leader & Secretary General, Africa Trade Union
*Comrade John Odah, Immediate past Secretary General of the NLC & Executive Secretary of the Organisation of Trade Unions of West Africa (OTUWA)
*Prof. Nuhu Yaqub, Former Vice Chancellor of both Unversity of Abuja & Sokoto State University.
*Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa, Conflict Transformation Specialist, Chartered Mediator/Conciliator, Academic & Chairperson, Board of Directors, National Peace Summit Group (NPSG)
*Amb. Zango Abdu, Retired Diplomat & former Foreign Service Officer
*Amb. Dahiru Suleiman (OFR), Retired Career Diplomat
*Prof Isaac Albert, Professor of African History/Peace & Conflict Studies & Pioneer Director, Institute of Peace & Strategic Studies (IPSS), University of Ibadan (UI)
*Dr. Remi Aiyede, Associate Professor of Public policy, UI
*Amb. M. K. Ibrahim, Retired Nigerian Ambassador, former Chair of the OIC & former Director, Amnesty International (AI), Nigeria
*Prof. S.A. Ibrahim, President, Nigeria Political Science Association (NPSA) & former Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, Nasarawa State University, Keffi
*Dr. Jideofor Adibe, Associate Prof. of Political Science, Nasarawa State University, Keffi
The consensus at the meeting was that the admission of Morocco into ECOWAS could be detrimental to ECOWAS, and indeed Nigeria for a number of reasons, some of which are:
1) Morocco is not a West African state
2) Morocco, which is Chair of a similar moribund REC, domiciled in her country, is yet to resuscitate same. Morocco therefore has no business wanting to join a REC outside her domain.
3) Morocco is interested in which West African country would be admitted into the UN Security Council, and her choice is likely to be Senegal, not Nigeria.
4) In 2015 alone, Morocco realised $14.6b from illegally mined phosphate from Western Sahara.
5) If Morocco joins ECOWAS, the latter's protocol on free movement of persons could be threatened. There could be security threats, since many West African, nay African countries are tormented by violent extremism.
6) Entertaining the idea of Morocco joining ECOWAS at all is a failure of Nigeria's foreign policy.
7) If admitted, the turf war between Western Sahara and Morocco could be transported to Nigeria.
8) Nigeria, and indeed West Africa have enough problems already. It is un-necessary to admit Morocco, which could further compound those issues.
9) There are no tangible benefits from Morocco's 'cheque book diplomacy'
On a positive note, participants were of the opinion that the various bilateral agreements/relationships between individual West African states and Morocco should be encouraged