The Okyenhene, Osaagyefuo Amoatia Ofori-Panin, says despite the vast opportunities available to make countries in West Africa harness their potentials, bad governance continues to render these opportunities useless.
According to the Okyenhene, the Sub-Region abounds with enormous resources: Minerals, forestry, freshwater, marine, a diversified climate that supports all kinds of plants and livestock production and cash crop agriculture potential of all types including ecotourism.
However, despite these enormous opportunities, much attention has not been paid to harnessing the enormous resources of the Sub-Region with the consequence that the people of the Sub-Region are thrown into the abyss of mass poverty, hopelessness and degradation.
According to him, persistent gaps in education and health sectors, as well as skills and entrepreneurship development, have left the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to reach only 40% of its estimated potentials.
Speaking at a Consultative Meeting of Religious and Traditional Leaders in West Africa Under the ECOWAS Vision 2050 at Kyebi in the Eastern Region, the Okyenhene said ECOWAS hosts the largest economic and political union in Africa and has the responsibility to set an example for the rest of the continent and the whole of the developing world.
He called for an examination of the structures and effectiveness of the governance system and approaches to public policy, planning and implementation of programmes in the various West African countries.
The Okyenhene, therefore, called on leaders of the West African countries to see chieftaincy as the institution that can help fix most of the challenges facing the sub-region.
“The Chieftaincy institution is embedded in the psyche of our people, it has the respect, legitimacy and direct relation to their daily lives; materially and spiritually.
“Chieftaincy is the primary source of political socialisation that integrates all aspects of religious, economic, environment, traditional medicine, marriage, self-identity and public peace,” he said.
He said in Ghana today, 95% of marital and inheritance conflicts are resolved in the palaces of chiefs and over 80% of all land disputes, and 70% all legal issues.
This, he said, attests to the indispensability of the chieftaincy institution in modern governance.
“Chieftaincy is the melting ground and matrix of the aspiration, beliefs, mobilisation, motivation, social identity of our people and it is indispensable in any developmental effort to alleviate our people from poverty and destitution,” he said.
To him, when it comes to the environment, age-old customary observances on hunting and fishing have proved more effective than forest guards and environmental policies designed by bureaucrats.
He, therefore, advocated that West African leaders must commit themselves to institute legislative measures to ensure the inclusiveness of traditional actors at all levels of governance in the spirit of decentralisation and popular participation.
Minister-designate for Foreign Affairs, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, said the realisation of the 2050 vision depended largely on local actions taken by ECOWAS citizens with the support of traditional and religious leaders who are the custodians of societal norms.
She underscored that to effectively support these local actions, it was important to forge partnerships with relevant stakeholders including the traditional authorities in view of their extensive outreach and presence in the sub-region.
The ECOWAS Vision 2020 was adopted in June 2007 by the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS as the development blueprint for the transformation of West Africa into a borderless, peaceful and prosperous region by 2020.
The ECOWAS Vision 2020 came to an end in December 2020, necessitating the development of a Roadmap for the preparation of the Post 2020 Vision – now referred to as ECOWAS Vision 2050.