Harnessing efforts towards a new WACSOF fit to carry out its mandate as the officially recognized platform for civil society coordination in West Africa supporting the realization of the ECOWAS Vision 2020, WACSOF held a People’s Forum in Abuja, Nigeria, 15-16 August 2016.
1. Over 100 national and regional civil society organizations and networks representing the 15-member countries of the Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) gathered in Abuja, Nigeria on 15-16 August 2016 to hold the 6th WACSOF People’s Forum biennial Forum under the theme: ‘The WACSOF Revival’.
- This regional meeting was convened with support from Open Society Initiative of West Africa (OSIWA), The West Africa Civil society Institute (WACSI), The Commonwealth Foundation, the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Foundation, Oxfam Ibis, GIZ and ECOWAS Commission.
- The Forum had in attendance the President of ECOWAS represented by Mrs. Violet Ukpayang, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Gender and Social Affairs, The Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security and the Directorate of Strategic Planning. It also had in attendance Honourable Minister of Solid Minerals (Nigeria) Dr. Kayode Fayemi, Ghanaian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ambassador Williams Awinado, Regional Director OSIWA, Dr. Abdul Tejan-Cole, FEZ Country Director, Michael Roll, Coordinator IBIS-Oxfam, Mohammed Mahamud, Dr Kole Shettima of MacArthur Foundation and many other dignitaries.
- The Forum noted the historic moment which the People’s Forum offers as a platform for the aggregation of civil society organisation interests, and interventions across the fifteen (15) states of West Africa.
- It noted that WACSOF was founded with the sole purpose of channelling civil society energies towards complimenting the regional integration and development agenda of the ECOWAS ‘System’ Institutions. Since its inception in 2003, WACSOF has worked to deliver on this mandate, and efforts are on-going to strengthen the organization’s capacities toward this. However, a host of obstacles have been in the way of a truly successful delivery on its mandate.
- After many years of postponement, the WACSOF People’s Forum was successfully held in spite of various structural and operations challenges. There was consensus among all participants that the first step for the revival and strengthening of the organization could not happen without a legitimate holding of this forum which provided the opportunity for civil society organizations in attendance to voice their minds in relation to WACSOF’s challenges and proffer new avenues for the way forward. As observed, this will lead to a stronger organization that is institutionally and structurally capable of working effectively along the ECOWAS in every aspect of the regional integration of West African States with a full involvement of communities on ground through civil society engagement. Strategies were also assessed with a view to strengthening those civil society organizations at national level for an impactful result-based approach in interventions.
- The WACSOF People’s Forum, after having revisited its relationship with the ECOWAS, its internal governance and its engagements both internally and with other regional CSO networks:
I. INVITES the ECOWAS to effectively mainstream through WACSOF civil society interventions into the ECOWAS Vision 2020, particularly the ECOWAS Community Strategy Framework (CSF 2016-2020);
II. ENCOURAGES the ECOWAS to implement the CSF component on effectively involving national level CSO’s in its popularization, implementation and monitoring, as well as the component on providing human, technical and financial support to West African civil society through WACSOF for an effective implementation at regional, national and sub-national levels;
III. ASSURES the ECOWAS of its dedication to regional integration and its readiness to pursue its effective collaboration with the regional economic community in all of its programme intervention areas;
IV. REITERATES its commitment to strengthening its governance structure both at regional and national levels with a new direction based on transparency and good internal governance which is being materialized through the adopted action plan which is already being implemented;
V. HAS REVISED and charted the way for a new leadership based on integrity, governance and accountability with a stronger membership as well as a more effective partnership with national, regional and international stakeholders;
VI. IS COMMITTED to providing mechanisms for resource mobilization, learning from best practices, knowledge and innovation;
VII. INFORMS that a new Executive Committee, composed fully of new members from various countries of West African with various expertise and a new vision for civil society based on innovation and transparency, has been elected to replace the out-going and to bring new blood which is badly needed for WACSOF to deliver on its important mandate.
President: Honorable Khady Fall Tall (Senegal) 1st Vice President: Margaret Udoh (Nigeria) 2nd Vice President: Dionisio Pereira (Cape Verde) Youth Representative: Abouzeidi Sanousi Abdoul Aziz (Niger) Member: Fatoumata Tambajang (The Gambia) Member: Dansa Kourouma (Guinea Conakry) Member: Ngolo T. Katta (Sierra Leone) Member: Paula Melo (Guinea Bissau) Member: Korotoumou Traoré (Mali) Member: Yameogo Urbain (Burkina Faso)
Member: Sulemana Braimah (Ghana)
Done in Abuja, 16th August, 2016
Abdoulaye Diallo (Senegal)
Drissa Soulama (Cote d’Ivoire)
Siga Fatima Jagne (The Gambia)
Margaret Udoh (Nigeria)
Auwal Musa (Rafsanjani): Acting General Secretary
WACSOF is a non-discriminatory platform consisting of over 150Civil Society organisations based in all ECOWAS member States. The Regional Secretariat in Abuja coordinates the activities of its different National Platforms and provides an official interface for West African civil society to engage with the ECOWAS Commission in promoting Democratic Governance, Peace and Sustainable Development in the Region.
This Communiqué was issued at 6th WACSOF People’s Forum, 16 August 2016 Reiz Continental Hotel, Abuja, Nigeria.
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