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The trend or movement towards regionalism or regional

arrangement is one of the most interesting developments in recent international relations and the era of globalization.1 The charter of

the United Nations (UN) specifically recognized it, and the Vandenberg Resolution, adopted by the United States senate on June 11, 1948, gave it strong endorsement2. listed in the Resolution, (2) and Of the six (6) objectives (3) concerned regional



The article recommended as follows: a. A progressive development or regional and other

collective arrangements for individual and collective self defence in accordance with the purpose, principles and provisions of the charter, and


b. Association of the United States, by constitutional

process, with such regional and other collective arrangement are based on continuous and effective self help and mutual aid, and as affects national security.3 This development reached its height of development in the Western hemisphere and in western Europe. It subsequently found expression in other

regions of the world e.g. Latin America and Africa etc. Regional integration schemes is encouraged because it is one of the most important routes to economic growth and development. 4


It can be posited that the trend towards regionalism is in part,

an outcome of the necessity of harnessing natural resources for protection in a divided and war threatened world.5 It is also an

outgrowth of other pressures which are driving nations together in the present era.6 Indeed, it may indicate that the nation state

system ,the dominant pattern of international state system for some centuries, is evolving towards a system in which regional groupings of states will be more important than the independent sovereign


units.7 This can be supported by the following assertion by Walter Lippmann (1949:115) The true constituent members of the international order of the future, are communities of states8 4. Due to the frequent use of regions to mean areas smaller

than states9, it is important to emphasize that in international relations, a region is an area embracing the territories of three or more states.10 These states are bound together by types of common interests as well as of geography.11


Possible examples of regional arrangements include the inter

American system which made provision for common defence, exchange of essential materials and financial and cultural

collaboration among the American States.12 Another, is the central American Common Market and Latin American Free Trade Association (LAFTA), its objective was to establish a complete customs union and a common external tariff among members.13 The Caribbean

Commission and Caribbean Organization, an out-growth of the Anglo3


American Caribbean Commission, is another instance. Its central

goal was to promote the social and economic development of the Caribbean territories of the member states.14 There was also the

Benelux Union, coined from the names of the three countries, Belgium, Netherlands and Luxemburg. It was combined to form a single customs union and operate as a unit on many international issues.15 There was also the Arab League whose objective was the strengthening of the relations among member states, the

coordination of their policies in order to achieve cooperation among them and to safeguard their independence and sovereignty. 16


In the less developed countries in Africa, a number of regional

integration schemes have been formed since the 1960s, the period when African Countries started attaining political independence. While some have flourished, others have collapsed and still others are about taking off. The regional groupings vary in composition especially in terms of countries involved in each scheme, the size and levels of economic development of various countries within the


groupings.17 One of the regional integration schemes in Africa and West Africa in particular and of concern to this work is the Economic Community of West African states (ECOWAS). 7. The ECOWAS, a regional body comprising 15 West African

countries, came into existence on May, 28 in 1975, and started operation in 1977.18 The aim of the ECOWAS is to encourage and promote economic, cultural and social development in West African nations.19 Established by the Treaty of Lagos, it comprises of Nigeria, Gambia, Liberia, Benin, Togo, Cote dIvoire, Niger, Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, Ghana, Guinea, Burkina Faso and Cape Verde. 20 The establishment of ECOWAS was the first step taken by these countries to promote integration. It was founded to achieve collective self

sufficiency for the member states by means of economic and monetary union, creating a single larger trading bloc. Although its progress was said to be slow, it was revised in Cotonou, Benin Republic on July 24, 1993.21


8. To ensure a focused and purpose driven organization, the

affairs of the ECOWAS are steered by certain institutions which include: a. The authority of Heads of State and Government. This

is the supreme institution of the community composed of heads of state and government of member states. According to the ECOWAS treaty, the Authority shall be responsible for the general direction and control of the community and take all measures to ensure its progressive development and the realization of its objectives22


The Council of Ministers.

This is the second most

important organ of the ECOWAS. 23 It is responsible for the efficient functioning of the community of West African states. It comprises of ministers in charge of ECOWAS affairs from member states.24


c. The Executive Secretary/Secretariat. The effectiveness of

any organization in a bureaucracy is the existence of an efficient secretariat.25 Consequently Article 19 of ECOWAS treaty provides that the secretary shall be the executive officer of the community and all its institutions. This means that the secretariat runs all the activities of the community.26


Other institutions include the community parliament, ECOWAS

community court of Justice, Economic and social council, Arbitration Tribunal and Technical Commissions.


At its 29th ordinary summit, held in Niamey, Niger Republic in

January 2006 the authority of Heads of State and Government approved the transformation of the ECOWAS secretariat into a commission to enable the organization be run more effectively and efficiently.27 With this, the ECOWAS would become a supranational organization while member states would shed certain aspects of their sovereignty. This cannot be said to be without consequences for the


organization, the West African sub-region and individual member states. The transformation and its implications form the focus of this research.

STATEMENT OF THE RESEARCH PROBLEM 14. The transformation of the ECOWAS secretariat into a

commission no doubt presents supposed benefits for the organization and the West African sub-region. It is envisaged that the innovations will consolidate the community spirit among member states of ECOWAS and reinvigorate the efforts being made towards regional integration and economic development of the sub-region. However, the transformation also bears with it, certain repercussions for member states considering the fact that they will have to let go of certain sovereign rights. Furthermore, member states would be

faced with the new challenges of supporting a more vibrant regional organisation. An appraisal of the issues and prospects of this development thus forms our research problem. It is within this

context that this research answers the following questions:



a. b. How has the ECOWAS fared in its 3 decades of existence? What necessitated the transformation of the ECOWAS

Secretariat into a Commission? c. What are the implications of the transformation of ECOWAS

Secretariat into a Commission? d. How best can the transformation of the ECOWAS Secretariat

into a Commission be enhanced?



This research sets out to achieve the following: a. To appraise the ECOWAS and its performance in its years

of existence b. To identify and discuss the factors which necessitated the of the organizations secretariat into a

transformation commission. c.

To examine and assess the various implications of the

transformation of the ECOWAS secretariat into a commission



d. To suggest strategies of enhancing the transformation of

the organizations secretariat into a commission.



This research is significant in the following regards: a. It is a modest contribution to the existing body of

knowledge b. It is relevant to leaders of the West African sub-region in

their quest to achieve regional integration c. Its findings will serve as blue print for similar quests in

other regions of Africa and the world in general d. It will stimulate further research in the field and hence

become a veritable reference material for future researchers

ASSUMPTIONS OF THE RESEARCH 17. This research assumes the following:



a. The ECOWAS has not achieved the purpose for which it

was established. b. Leaders of the ECOWAS have not exhibited the political

will to enhance the operations of the ECOWAS. c. The transformation of ECOWAS secretariat into a

commission holds benefits as well as challenges for the West African sub-region.



In its over 3 decades of existence as a regional body, the

ECOWAS cannot be said to have fully realized the goals for which it was established. There are still obstacles to be surmounted.

Therefore to be able to enhance its operations to realize its set objectives, the ECOWAS highest body agreed to transform its secretariat into a commission with greater powers. This implies that


certain decisions will be binding on member states. The scope of this research therefore covers our assessment of the transformation of the secretariat into a commission and what its likely implications for the member states would be.

LIMITATION OF THE RESEARCH 19. Carrying out a research of this nature demands that a

researcher obtains data from the ECOWAS Secretariat in Abuja. This poses challenges due to limited time and tight schedule on the part of the researcher. In addition, there is bureaucracy in the collection of data.

1. E. Hass: The Study of regional Integration, in Falk and Mendlovitz (eds): Regional politics and World Order (Freeman and Co. San Francisco 1973) p. Ibid K. Deutsch: Political Community and the North Atlantic Area (Princeton University press, Princeton 1967) p.

2. 3.


4. 5. 6. 7. 8. J. Reninger: Multinational Corporation for Development in West Africa (Paragon press, New York, 1978) p. 17 Ibid Ibid P. Robson: ECOWAS Integration in Africa (North Western press, Evanston, 1965) p. W. Lippman : Unpublished Address on The Atlantic Community at a conference on Regionalism and Political pact, Philadelphia, May 1949. Ibid Ibid Ibid A. B. D. Drucker: Regional Economic principles and problems in Regionalism and world Organization (public Affairs press, Washington D. C. (1944) p. Ibid G. L. Ogden The organization of American States, Columbia Journal of International Affairs vol. III (1949) A. B. Drucker op cit J. Baldwin, The Arab World, (2003) J. Renninger op cit

9. 10. 11. 12.

13. 14. 15. 16.



17. O. Nweke: ECOWAS: Three decades of Enduring legacies in the West African sub-region (Ositablack Ventures, Abuja, 2007) p. 5 U. Ezenwe: ECOWAS and Economic Integration of West Africa (West books, Ibadan 1984) p. 43 Ibid O. Nweke op cit Ibid Ibid Ibid Ibid Ibid Ibid

18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26.

CHAPTER ONE Introduction General Background to the study Statement of the Research Problem Objectives of the Research Assumptions of the research Scope of the research Limitations of the Research End notes



Chapter Two: Literature Review Concept of Regional Integration The ECOWAS and Integration in West Africa Transformation of ECOWAS secretariat into a Commission End notes

Chapter three: Research Methodology Research Design Data collection procedure Research instrument Interviews Questionnaires

Population Sampling size and sampling techniques Analytical procedure



Validation of Research Instruments End notes Chapter Four: Data Presentation and Analysis Data presentation Data analysis Chapter five: Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations Summary Conclusion Recommendation Bibliography