THE Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has hinted on why it engages the services of former Heads of States in carrying out mediation in member countries.
Head of Mediation Facilitation Board, ECOWAS Commission, Abuja, Mr Ebenezer Asiedu, gave the hint while delivering a lecture on ECOWAS Mediation Processes, Mediation Tracks 1, 2 & 3 at the three-day ECOWAS Commission Mediation and Dialogue which ended on Thursday in Benin, Edo State.
He said the reason ECOWAS engaged former heads of states in internal mediation of political crisis in member states was because they still enjoyed much respect and status of being former leaders.
Asiedu added that such former leaders, who are often drafted to mediate among key actors often at the instance of electoral stalemate, usually enjoy acceptability and undenied access to both incumbent governments, the opposition and other actors.
He further stated that ECOWAS usually offers financial, technical or logistics support for electoral processes in member states on request, noting, however, that the regional body only monitors presidential elections.
Asiedu hinted that to avoid perceived prejudice, the regional body neither engages citizens of an election-bound state as observers in its election-monitoring process nor issues judgemental statements on conduct of elections.
According to Asiedu, ECOWAS, after carrying out its observatory role in presidential elections in member states, would usually emerge with recommendations on how the electoral processes could be improved upon in subsequent exercises.
He reinforced the submission with the fact that the recent INEC’s introduction of simultaneous accreditation and voting during election was part of the recommendations the regional body presented to the electoral umpire after the fallout of the 2015 General elections.
Program Officer, Capacity Building, Mediation Facilitation Division, Directorate of Political Affairs, ECOWAS Commission, Abuja, Dr Brown Odigie, also presented a case study in which knowledge and skills acquired by participants at the workshop were evaluated in a mock, practical mediation session.
Chairman of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Group and resource person at the workshop, Dr Agada Elachi, concluded the third day of the engaging workshop that mediation was all about managing people’s emotions to achieve a peaceful coexistence.
Meanwhile, participants at the ECOWAS Commission’s Dialogue and Mediation workshop, drawn from the six states of the South-South region, have expressed appreciation to the ECOWAS team in conjunction with the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR) which facilitated the workshop.
The Special Adviser on Women and Gender Affairs, Mrs Efosa Uyigue, who thanked the organizers on behalf of other participants, averred that the training would further foster deeper understanding, especially in nipping in the bud potential crisis in the region ahead of the 2019 general elections.
A communique issued at the end of the three-day workshop on Thursday by the participants, which included civil societies, faith-based organizations and community peace actors, urged ECOWAS to engage the participants as volunteers to complement the efforts of ECOWAS Monitoring Team in the 2019 elections.
The communique, drafted by a committee, was signed by Florence Gbinigie of the Forum of Nigerian Women in Politics (FONWIP), Edo State and Dr Philips O Okolo of the Society for Peace Studies & Practice, Bayelsa State, among others.
The participants, in the communique, also made commitments to: “Carry out advocacy visits and training to relevant stakeholders such as traditional institutions, security agencies, political parties and government agencies, among others and form a technical working team to collaborate with ECOWAS in its election monitoring and dispute resolution activities.”
Each of the participants was issued a certificate of participation at the end of the three-day ECOWAS-IPCR training workshop.
It will be recalled that the workshop for the South-South was declared open on Tuesday, October 9 by the Executive Governor of Edo State, Mr Godwin Obaseki, who was represented by the Honourable Commissioner of Arts, Culture, Tourism and Diaspora, Hon. Osaze Osemwingie-Ero.
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