Thursday, February 16, 2012

Implementing Free Movement Policy Problematic- ECOWAS

Implementing Free Movement Policy Problematic- ECOWAS

Ayodele Samuel, Abidjan

The Economic Community of West Africa States ECOWAS has said implementing its free movement policy in the region is problematic.

Director of Trade, Industry and Free Movement, Ministry Of African Integration
Republic of Cote D'Ivory Directorate, Louis-Philippe Goli Kouame  while delivering a paper tittle, " Contributions of youth Organization to raise awareness and promote the free movement of person within the ECOWAS" said the implementation of the policy remains problematic at Member State level calling on States to develop means for more stringent implementation, including monitoring and enforcement of the policy at local borders.

He said the harmonization of community member's national laws and regulations to ease free movement is crucial to the implementation of the policy in various member states.
He said Free movement in the integrations process of  ECOWAS is crucial to the growth of the Sub Sahara region,
"the ECOWAS region is perceived as a place of extreme mobility of populations. The bulk of migration taking place by land of  Over 15,000 km of borders intra. and 8500 km with their neighboring countries of North Africa and Central the social continuums extending beyond borders: Country Haussa, more than 30 million people from northern Nigeria and Niger; Mande area with 15 million people between Senegal, Mali, Guinea and Côte d'Ivoire country borders Concept"

He lamented that the commission cannot oblige any country to comfort with the policy, saying this has this principal weaken the contribution of member state to the growth of the region.

He said the ECOWAS policy cannot be implemented by the Head of State, calling on youths to work with government to ensure the successful integration of West Africa communities, "the free movement of persons is paramount need for regional integration in ECOWAS"

He said the youth must learn and understand the free movement policy for the purpose of social, economy and political development.

Nigerian representative at the meeting, Adeola Aroso, says that the policy is overrated by all ECOWAS member states, "it is all talk, no action, the policy of free movement should be effective  at all West African borders and not on paper and our governments should strengthen its local laws, institution and process on implementing the ECOWAS policy."   

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Free Movement Policy not Effective- ECOWAS Youths

Free Movement Policy not Effective- ECOWAS Youths

Ayodele Samuel, Abidjan

Youths from Economic Community of West Africa States ECOWAS yesterday lamented the non-effectiveness of the free movement policy in the region.

The youths at the opening ceremony of a three day conference on the ECOWAS Youth Conference in Abidjan, Cote D' Ivory  with  theme "The contribution of youth organizations to raise awareness and PROMOTING THE FREE MOVEMENT OF PERSONS IN SPACE" identify poverty as the major cause of migration from the ECOWAS region.

Two delegates each  from the 25 members state of ECOWAS has continue discussion on successful implementation of the policy to boast development in the sub region

Speaking at the event Adviser to Spain Consular General in Cote D' Ivory Mrs Garcia   express her country readiness to assist ECOWAS achieve it integration policy, "Spain is involved in the project because migration is very important nowadays, Spain his ready to help ECOWAS to achieve the goal of free movement within the region."

She said migration is a major challenge to the region but if well control can be an opportunity of social and economy development.

She urge youths and community members to promote the free movement policy within the ECOWAS region 

ECOWAS Representative in Cote D' Ivory Ambassedor Abraham Doukoure in his address urged participants at the conference to share ideas and proffer solutions to the problem of barriers to free movement in the region, "This meeting is an occasion for the Youths organization to ponder about the actions that be accomplish in order to reduce constrains to the free movement of persons and good within the region."

It his welcome address the President of the NGO Solidarité Jeunesse IVORY COAST,  Stanislas Laurent YAO said interregional movement it's not effective while ECOWAS first principle is based on integration of its members country.

He noted that migration policies of member countries constitute the principal barrier to the free movement of goods and persons in the region.

He identify lack of proper travel documentation, corruption at borders and disrespect for  ECOWAS Free movement policy by the agents of members state as major hindrance to  successful implementation of the policy in the  region.

He added that the objective of the conference is to create awareness about the ECOWAS free movement policy,  "Ignorance of the right among citizen of ECOWAS member state remain major constrain ,we need to pay a particular attention because youths constitute the highest level of migrating movement in the region."

Present at the Conference are representative of ECOWAS country missions in Cote D'Ivory, among others

At the end of the meeting a network platform of youth organizations and young ECOWAS to raise awareness and promote the ideals of ECOWAS on the free movement of persons and property and the fight against road harassment and borders will be set up.

Photo caption: L-R  ECOWAS Representative in Cote D' Ivory Ambassedor Abraham Doukoure, President of the NGO Solidarité Jeunesse IVORY COAST,  Stanislas Laurent YAO, Representative of Ministry of Africa Integration, Ogni Kanga Beniot , Minister for Gender  and Family immigration Mr Doumbia Yakouba and Adviser to Spain Consular General Mrs Garcia at the opening  of the ECOWAS Youth Conference on Free Movement Policy in Abidjan CoteD' Ivory photo Ayodele Samuel, Abidjan

Wednesday, February 8, 2012



Youths from the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) will on 15th February gather   in Abidjan, Cote D' Ivory for a capacity building workshop on youths' advocacy and engagement on the implementation of free movement of persons and goods policy within the region.

The conference  with theme "The contribution of youth organizations to raise awareness and promoting the free movement of persons in space"  has its  participants drawn from 15 ECOWAS states.
Other issues to be discuss at the meeting includes: the legal framework and obstacles to the free movement of people and the right of establishment within ECOWAS: What strategies and means of action for youth organizations to contribute to the effective implementation of ECOWAS texts and Youth organizations and the fight against the red road and border.

The meeting according to President of the Non-Government Organisation, Solidarité Jeunesse IVORY COAST, Stanislas Laurent YAO is to raise awareness among citizens and governments of the importance of something as precious as the integration through the free movement of persons in ECOWAS.
Stanislas stated that the conference is to set up a campaign caravan intended as a framework for youth to make a status report on their involvement and the role youths can play in promoting the free movement of persons and the fight against the red road and border security.

"Through this campaign caravan, he comes to the attention of politicians, decision makers and media about the need for the implementation of ECOWAS free movement policy.
"The overall objective of the gathering is to ensure the contribution of youth organizations across ECOWAS states in promoting the free movement of persons within the region," he added.
 Organize exchange of experiences between youth organizations in West Africa through a space of dialogue for the debate about innovative initiatives and increasing promotion of the texts governing the rights and obligations of citizens to free movement of persons within ECOWAS.

He said the central goal  of the meeting is to create awareness  on the  issues of free movement of people and goods in the ECOWAS region and creating a change in our regions.
At the end of the meeting, YAO said p a network platform of youth organizations and young ECOWAS to raise awareness and promote the ideals of ECOWAS on the free movement of persons and property and the fight against road harassment and borders will be set up.

Saturday, February 4, 2012



Ayodele Samuel, Lagos

Governor Ibrahim Shehu Shema of Katsina State has won the National Chronicle man of the year 2011 award.

 The Katsina State Chief Executive was the Newspaper's first runner-up for 2010, coming behind the eventual winner, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, the Executive Governor of Delta State .


A statement signed by the Editor of National Chronicle Newspaper Peretine Ikenebomeh said Governor Shema emerged the winner of the Annual award beating the Governor of River State, Rotimi Amaechi and Lagos State Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola to the second and third positions respectively.


"In a poll which was conducted through sms, phone calls, emails by the organization, the Kastina State boss pulled over six thousand votes to defeat his closest rival, the River State Governor Rotimi Amaechi who scored over two thousand and five hundred votes to come second and Lagos Governor Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola who scored over one thousand and five hundred votes to come third out of the over ten thousand readers who participated in the poll.


"Governor Shema came first in all the areas, National Chronicle Man of the year 2011 award was based on. The governor got over 60% votes in the area of security 65% in health, 62% in infrastructure 55% in education, 70% in good governance and 86% in transparency," Peretine added.


He said the emergency of barrister Shema as the National Chronicle Man of the year 2011 did not come to readers of the popular newspaper as a surprise. "Governor Shema, the political godson of the late President Umaru Musa Yar'adua has demonstrated in all his actions and dealing that he is a man of honour, honesty, dedications and trust worthy, a role model in grassroots development. The area the people of Kastina have felt the impact of their governor includes, health education, road construction, housing, water supply, poverty eradication, market development, security amongst others.


"As rightly predicted by the National Chronicle in 2010 when he emerged as that year first runner-up that it will be easier for the head of a camel to pass through the eyes of a needle than for any candidate to defeat barrister Shema in 2011 elections, and that Governor Shema was a king awaiting coronation on a may 29, 2011. True to this prediction, the Kastina state governor won the 2011 Governorship elections for Kastina state convincingly by sending the onslaught of the C.P.C in Kastina state which incidentally happens to be the home of the CPC presidential candidate, Gen Mohammed Buhari."


This award has further confirmed that the readers of the newspapers who voted over whelming for the Kastina State Governor as the first runner-up to Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan in 2010 did not made a mistake neither was it a fluke. The award will be presented to him soon.         


Friday, February 3, 2012

N100bn Textile Fund: FG, NASS under pressure to investigate disbursements, beneficiaries

The Federal Government and the National Assembly is been pressured by traders and other stakeholders in the textile sector to probe the disbursement and beneficiaries of the 100 billion textile bailout fund. Peoples Daily reliably gathered that various petitions and letters have been written to the Presidency and National Assembly by concerned stakeholders in the textile sector who lamented that four years after the disbursement of N100 billion bailout fund for the dying textile sector, the textile market is yet to ‘bubble’ with locally produced products. The textile bailout fund was established by former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration as a promotional facility to revive and encourage new investments in the cotton and textile sectors to boost production of textile goods in the country. Some of the groups, which included the National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) and the Association of Banks, Insurance and other Financial Institutions (ASSBIFI) called for the urgent investigation of the fund which they say has be a blessing to the revival of textile industry in the country. Other stakeholders promised to continue pressurising the government to the investigate “the beneficiaries, how they emerged, how was the money spent and mode of disbursement of the fund.” The National President of ASSBIFI, Comrade Sunday Salako said, “We call on the Presidency to investigate the N80 billion intervention fund to resuscitate the prostrate textile sector, with N20 billion which was supposedly earmarked for the cotton sub-sector/farmers, N50 billion meant for textile manufacturers, while N10 billion was to be dedicated to strengthening Customs surveillance and non-state actors advocacy targeted on campaigns for Made-in-Nigeria textile products that never achieved it set target.” Also, NANTS President, Comrade Ken Ukaoha, in a petition to the Presidency said the fund, which was disbursed through the Bank of Industry (BoI) was meant to revive the textile sector but has not materialised till date. Ukaoha also called on President Jonathan to urgently save the textile sector from total collapse, saying the textile sector of the economy, if fully revived by strengthening the Nigerian textile industries, would create over 500,000 jobs. “We have written President Jonathan to remind him that the textile industry used to be the most vibrant sector of our economy, employing at a time, over 500,000 people. Cotton was then in abundance in Nigeria with an average annual production of 320,000 metric tonnes or 111,000 metric tonnes lint. There were over 125 operating textile companies as well as 72 ginneries spread all over the country producing for the yearning Nigerian market. Salako, on his part said, “There were over 125 operating textile companies as well as 72 ginneries spread all over the country producing for the yearning Nigerian market, making the industry, apart from the banking sector, to be the most vibrant sector of our economy in the mid 70s, employing at a time, over 500,000 people.” According to Salako, President Jonathan’s administration may need to consider adopting a radical approach through a subtle pronouncement targeted at strongly encouraging Nigerians towards patronising Made-in-Nigeria textile products, by reviewing Nigeria’s membership and commitment to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) as its policies, which in most cases are anti-developmental in nature to the economy of Nigeria. “We critically envisage that such policy pronouncement is very critical towards generating the employment for millions of Nigerians envisaged by the nation’s development agenda- Vision 20:2020", he said. He also called on President Goodluck Jonathan to create the enabling environment, especially for the survival of the manufacturing industries to revive the textile sector.

We will sustain war against substandard - DG

The standard organization of Nigerian (SON), Director General Dr. Joseph Ikemefuna Odumodu in this interview with our business correspondent AYODELE SAMUEL, speaks on the agency plans to intensify the Zero Tolerance Campaign against substandard products in country. Could give us an overview of activities in 2011. 2011 was indeed a busy year for us. It could not have been any less given both the mandate of the Federal Government to the SON and the realty of the issue of sub-standardisation in the country. It was so endemic that there was hardly any product line that was not being sub-standardised, the details of these we have spoken about, at various interactions before now. On completion of the baseline study that revealed that over 85 percent of consumer products were substandard, we set out a 6 point agenda to drive the changes we sought in a hurry to stop the carnage and the callous de-industrialisation of Nigeria. In which way is your agency partnering with Consumers and other stakeholders? As part of the initiatives to drive home SON’s “Zero Tolerance to Substandard Products” initiative, the agency, in collaboration with the Consumer Protection Council (CPC), has met with leaders of the Electrical Dealers Association of Nigeria (EDAN) and General Electrical Dealers Association (GEDA). The aftermath of the meeting was the setting up of the first ever Consumer Help Desk which should help in Enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of the two regulatory agencies in discharging their statutory responsibilities of ridding our markets of substandard products and protecting the consumers. We also carried out a sensitisation of operators in the steel and iron bars sector , At the meeting, we warned of the prevalence of substandard steel products in the country, declaring our resolve to check it. Some of the directives issued out to steel manufacturers and producers present at the meeting were: all steel made in or imported into the country must bear approved identification marks by SON, all manufacturers and importers were directed to ensure that their products conform to the requirements of NIS 117:2004, manufacturers were directed to ensure they acquire modern testing equipment for chemical and mechanical properties of iron rods and a task force was set up to ensure compliance by stakeholders we had a meeting with primary aluminum producers which led to the review of the Nigerian Industrial Standard for the product. At that meeting, we recalled that efforts made to sanitise the sector had been marred by fraudulent activities ranging from poor identification of products and false declarations of aluminum sizes. We also made it clear that the minimum thickness approved for the product is 0.40 millimeters. Operators were mandated to ensure compliance with the NIS specifications or risk seizure and prosecution by SON. Aluminum producers were also mandated to ensure that every sheet produced or imported by them bear appropriate identification marks from factory to the roofs maintaining that all cladding and flashing materials shall have a minimum thickness of 0.40 millimeters. Last year December, we also meet with representatives of major dealing companies in attendance, including Techno, Panasonic, Sharp and Sony, were we declared our intention to collaborate with manufacturers, and the dealers were advised to educate consumers as well as SON operatives on the unique features of brands they deal on. The need for training of dealers was underscored while the stakeholders were advised to adopt the relevant standards with available ISO or national standard marks. Operators are to collaborate with SON on capacity building for staff and laboratory enhancement. Several other meetings were also held with other groups like Textiles Manufacturers Association (NTMA), Onitsha and Nnewi markets. What are you Targets and Programmes for 2012? We shall build on the gains of 2011 this year. Our primary target remains to achieve a further drastic reduction in the level of substandard products in the country. In 2011, our study revealed that SON achieved a total reduction of substandard products by about 25 percent. However, this reduction was reflected in the quality of products that were imported into the country between April and November 2011. In terms of awareness, we achieved only 15 percent level among consumers surveyed. Not much was however achieved in the level of substandard products on sale in various markets in Nigeria . This year, our target is a further 30 percent reduction in the penetration of substandard products in the country, both in terms of influx and circulation. Our strategy will be to build on the current collaborative efforts with other government agencies like Nigeria Customs, Consumer Protection Council, Nigeria Police and other relevant bodies to achieve the ideals of the President Goodluck Jonathan transformation agenda. We have worked out the logistics and for us, this would mean among others, the opening of more states offices and strengthening of the existing ones. It would also mean a reappraisal of our internal capacities, manpower, processes etc for greater effectiveness so that the agency would be able to meet her targets. We hear of complains in some quarters about used vehicles; what is your agency doing about this? The federal government policy for used vehicles prescribed only age restrictions. We shall not attempt to change that. However, as a result of several complaints from a cross section of Nigerians, we have elaborated standards for used vehicles where we have specified safer levels for a number of hazardous chemicals that are injurious to health and or the environment. When this new policy commences, we shall work with NESREA, NAC and Central Bank of Nigeria to ensure full compliance. All over the country, we have different kinds and grades of used vehicles with killer emission levels, and this we have to reduce at acceptable levels of safety. To some people, these emissions may seem innocuous, but when you do the chemical analysis, you find that several Nigerians are inhaling fumes of very dangerous dimensions with dire health consequences. We observe that there are critical issues of substandardisation in the manufacturing sector; could you pleas give us an update on meeting standards with regards to manufacturing? We shall review the Mandatory Conformity Assessment Programme (MANCAP) to meet with the present day reality for manufacturing for Nigeria markets. At the end of the day, it would further help in sanitising the sector and giving every genuine player opportunity of a fair playing ground. One major element of this review is to focus on the processes, input material, people skills and internal systems rather than on finished products quality. We shall facilitate collaboration to improve industrial capacity and products’ quality standards in MANCAP. We believe our initiative will assist build the capacity of the indigenous entrepreneur and help the course of the Federal Government’s economic reform programme. We just concluded the review of the SON Conformity Assessment Programme in December 2011 as part of the measure to check the incidence of substandard products. The new measures will lead to a more robust IT gateway with risk management profiling for importers and their consumer products. We shall implement the changes within the first quarter of 2012. Aside big businesses, do you have intention of helping to support small businesses in any way? One of our major projects in 2012 is to build capacity with Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises. There are well over 10 million MSMEs in Nigeria and they are essentially critical to job creation in this economy. We have discovered that most MSMEs have the genuine intention to manufacture quality products but lack the capacity to do so. SON shall identify 250 MSME’s and work very closely with them to certify them towards ISO 9001 (quality management systems) and ISO 22000 (food safety management system) at no cost. The outcome of this collaboration will be better, sustainable quality products in a system that cuts off non-value adding activities. We would be collaborating with the Nigerian Association of Small Scale Industrialists (NASSI) and the Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME) in this regard. What is the next step in the battle against substandard? We continue to intensify the Zero Tolerance Campaign against substandard products. This year, we are going to take it to the Eastern and Northern parts of the country, as well as the Middle Belt area. Is it not comforting to some degree that the average Nigerian, at least in the Lagos-West area now talks or is more conscious about the issue of substandard products in the country? In fact, at the level of consumers, some are beginning to realise that they have a responsibility to ensuring that they buy quality and can deliver on the things they promise to deliver.