Reckless exploitation of natural resources fuels political unrest, unconstitutional changes in W/Africa, says Falana


Prominent legal expert and human rights activist, Femi Falana, has shed light on the disturbing trend of coups within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). 

In a communique on Thursday, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), cited the “reckless exploitation of natural resources” as one of the principal driving forces behind the unsettling political unrest and the rise of unconstitutional changes in government.

Drawing on the historical and current socio-political landscape, Falana emphasized that the external influence and interference, particularly from former colonial regimes, coupled with the unchecked extraction of the region’s vast natural resources, has perpetuated economic inequalities. Such disparities have, in turn, led to mounting frustrations and grievances among the populace, creating a conducive environment for coups and power struggles.

Falana’s observations come at a time when ECOWAS has been under increased scrutiny, with a growing number of its member states experiencing political upheavals. He said the correlation between resource mismanagement and political instability underscores the urgent need for reformed governance and transparent economic practices in the region.

He said: “We have confirmed that another principal cause of change of governments in West Africa is the reckless exploitation of the natural resources of the member states of the ECOWAS by former colonial regimes and their allies. Such exploitation is compounded by the control of the national economy by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. The implementation of the anti people’s policies of the foreign forces has continued to increase the poverty of the entire people of the region.

“Out of frustration with civilian governments, unemployed youths and victims of human rights abuse usually troop to the streets to celebrate coup plotters. The ECOWAS leaders should end the crude exploitation of natural resources and empower the people to control the commonwealth of member states in accordance with Article 21 (1) of the Charter which provides:

“All peoples shall freely dispose of their wealth and natural resources. This right shall be exercised in the exclusive interest of the people. In no case shall a people be deprived of it.”

The rights activists also noted that the immediate and remote cause of unconstitutional change of governments is the manipulation of constitutions and referenda by elected governments to extend the tenure of Presidents.

He explained that in 2015, the leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) proposed to restrict West African presidents to two terms in office to stop unconstitutional changes of governments in West Africa.

This proposal was shelved as it was opposed by Togo and The Gambia, both with presidents who had been in power for more than two terms in office.

But following the coup in Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea, ECOWAS leaders under the immediate past Chairman, President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana proposed to amend the Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance to limit the tenure of Presidents to a maximum period of two terms in office.

The amendment was not passed due to the objection of President Allason Quatara of Cote divoire, Mall of Senegal, and Faure Eyadama of Togo. Presidents Quatara and Eyadama are currently spending more than two terms in office while President Mall is scheming for a third term.

Falana urged the new Chairman of Ecowas, President Bola Tinubu of Nigeria, to ensure that the amendment is passed forthwith while sanctions are imposed on democratically elected presidents who engage in amendment of the national constitutions to extend their tenure beyond two terms.
~Channels tv

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