Ladies and Gentlemen, the West African Civil Society Forum (WACSOF) is delighted to welcome you all to this pre-event press briefing aimed at informing you of the WACSOF 6th biennial People’s Forum.
The Peoples’ Forum is the supreme organ of WACSOF which is composed of all representatives of CSOs registered with WACSOF. Article 6.3 of WACSOF Charter provides that the People’s Forum shall be convened on an annual basis, prior to the statutory meetings of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government in order to review the activities of the Regional Secretariat, induct new members, appoint new leadership, review the activities of ECOWAS Member States, and make recommendations to the annual ECOWAS Heads of State and Government summit. However, due to paucity of funding, this has been amended and it was agreed that the Forum would hold every 2 years with a mini forum held in between. In compliance with this, WACSOF has been able to convene five (5) full blown People’s Forum in Accra (2003), (2005), (2010); in Niamey (January 2006); in Ouagadougou (December 2006) and a Mini Forum in Accra (2007).
Since then, the organization has been confronted with funding challenges and the many attempts to address this have been ineffective. The People’s Forum remains the only space where the necessary critical decisions needed to revive the organization, can be taken.
The current implementation plan for the ECOWAS Regional Integration Agenda (Vision 2020) is the Community Strategic Framework (CSF) 2016-2020. In April 2016 the ECOWAS Strategic Planning Directorate, following a directive from the ECOWAS Council of Ministers and with the support of GIZ, held a meeting with civil society, on the CSF and its implementation, with particular emphasis on the role of civil society. The meeting resolutions were emphatic on the importance of WACSOF as the recognized umbrella body for civil society in the region, particularly in engagement with ECOWAS, and reiterated the need to ensure that it was strengthened to play its role effectively.
Also recently, a West Africa Regional Civil Society Networks and Organisations’ meeting took place in Lome, Togo, in June 2016, reiterating this call for the revival of WACSOF and called for the holding of a participatory WACSOF Peoples’ Forum as soon as possible.
It is against this background that WACSOF is proposing to hold the Sixth People’s Forum to critically address current institutional challenges it is facing and strengthen its capacities to better play its supervisory role of CSOs across the West Africa particularly as they seek to play their part in the implementation and monitoring of the CSF, and meet the expectations from its members and partners.
Objectives of the People’s Forum
The overall objective of the sixth biennial people’s Forum is to gather representatives of Civil Society Organizations from across the fifteen (15) ECOWAS Member States to provide key updated information on the ECOWAS Regional Integration Agenda, particularly the CSF, critically discuss challenges facing WACSOF and strategically address them in order to reinforce its institutional and operational capacities for an increased delivery on its mandate.
Specifically, the Forum seeks to:
- Update participants about the developments on the CSF and remind them of civil society’s role
- Renew the governance structures of WACSOF;
- Discuss and creatively address the major institutional and operational challenges facing the organization;
- Rebuild the trust of members and partners in the organizations;
- Redefine the strategy of engagement with ECOWAS;
- Anticipate some of the challenges that may hamper the efficiency of the organization;
- Explore new approaches of positioning the organization to efficiently play its institutional role.
I am optimistic that at the end of this Forum, the following outcomes will be achieved:
- Updated information on CSF and the role of civil society
- Renewed and strengthened governance structures of WACSOF;
- Shared understanding of the challenges facing the organization and identified solutions and implementation methodologies to address them;
- Restored trust and confidence of members and partners in the organization;
- Strengthened relationship with ECOWAS;
- Anticipated strategy of addressing challenges that weaken the organization;
- Existing workable recommendations of repositioning the organization in the region.
The meeting will gather about one hundred (100) participants mainly from West Africa region comprising of delegates of Civil Society Organizations, representatives of ECOWAS, representatives of Civil Society umbrella organizations at a continental level and the media.
On this note I will urge that we all be part of the People’s Forum, as it leads to a new and more vibrant WACSOF strengthened to take up its space in the engagement with ECOWAS and in the implementation of ECOWAS Vision 2020.
Thank you and God bless you all.
ADDRESS BY THE Ag. GENERAL SECRETARY OF WACSOF, AUWAL IBRAHIM MUSA (RAFSANJANI), AT THE PRE-EVENT PRESS BRIEFING TOWARDS WACSOF 6TH BIENNIAL PEOPLE’S FORUM TO BE HELD ON THE 15-16th AUGUST, 2016 AT REIZ CONTINENTAL HOTEL, ABUJA, NIGERIA.
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