AU, ECOWAS, EU, Others Set for Civil Society Dialogue in Abuja

Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja

The Regional Citizen’s Dialogue Programme (RCDP), an initiative for preventing and responding to Unconstitutional Changes of Government (UCG) in West Africa, opens in Abuja today.

Already, representatives from the AU African Peer-Review Mechanism (APRM); the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Headquarters and the West African Democracy Solidarity Group (WADEMOS) have confirmed attendance.

Also, the Commissioner, Department of Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS); and the Portuguese Ambassador to Nigeria, Paulo Martins dos Santos, amongst others, are expected to be present.

Leaders of the RCDP initiative are also scheduled to pay a courtesy call on the leadership of the National Assembly, a statement from the organisers said.

Participants at the launch of the RCDP, a two-day programme at Reiz Hotel in Abuja, are expected from civil society groups in West Africa and other parts of the continent, including representatives of regional agencies and institutions in Europe.

The launch event will serve as a platform for participants to present, finalise and adopt a revised programme document and a comprehensive yearly implementation work plan for the initial phase of the programme, spanning  February to September, 2024.

In a letter of invitation to the participants, the Director General of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, Jos, Nigeria, Prof. Ayo Omatayo, said the RCDP is a collaborative effort of a consortium of civil society and research think tanks with leadership drawn from NIPSS.

Others are the Regional Centre for Governance and Security Policy Initiative (RCGSPI) with headquarters in Freetown, Sierra Leone, and the Dantiye Centre for Good Leadership and Journalism (DCLJ), Kano, with support from the International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID) based in Lisbon, Portugal.

Omatayo said the initiative is sequel to the concern over the recent wave of military coups across West Africa that threaten the future of democracy and political stability amidst persistent and growing economic hardship, poverty, and security crises induced by violent extremist organisations on the continent.

He also said the regional programme is designed to mobilise and organise civil society contributions towards the prevention, mitigation, and response to incidences of UCG in the West Africa sub-region.

The chairperson of the RCGSPI and AU ECOSOCC Peace and Security Cluster, Dr Jonathan Sandy, said the rationale for the programme is to complement and support the implementation of the main recommendations from African Governance Report 2023, which focused on UCG in Africa, published by the APRM.

He said it also aimed at building synergies with existing initiatives and ongoing efforts such as the AU ECOSOCC Annual Citizen’s Dialogue Forum and the West Africa Democracy Solidarity Network (WADEMOS).

He added that it also involves the implementation phase to serve as a platform for enhancing cooperation and complementarity between civil society organisations and ECOWAS institutional mechanisms in response to UCGs in West Africa.

“The RCDP is also an attempt by CSOs to support efforts by the AU and its partners in the implementation of the main outcomes of the AU Accra Declaration on UCG in Africa (March 2022) and the Malabo Declaration on Terrorism and Unconstitutional Changes of Government in Africa, adopted at the 16th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union Head of States on May 22, 2022,” it said.

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