Thursday, May 13, 2010

Hope Floats While I Chill in Abuja Heat

Been in Nigeria for the past two days for an ECOWAS-related conference, and you might think I am in my element.

Not quite.

As much as I praise the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for a number of positive developments in the sub-region (including visa-free travel since the 1980s), I am beginning to think that the

ECOWAS of the States towards the ECOWAS of the People--so-called VISION 2020--might be nothing more than a bunch of well-paid elites working in an European Union-style organisation thinking that grouping journalists and pther civil society activists together will empower people.

I saw this happening back in Brussels (2001-2004), when as a civil society activist working for a Brussels-based NGO, I attended many a CSO meeting organised--and paid--by the European Commission. The co-option by the EC of the CSOs was always lurking on the horizon.

That two CSO people I knew then now work for the European Commission can only attest to this fear of what might happen here at this meeting where ECOWAS is in effect providing good grounds for civil society to be part of the ECOWAS of the people...

Still, despite all the tallk about Nigeria and the attendant fear, I'm enjoying this country: the people are strong-minded (and the country has profound potential! Abuja is one hell of a prosperous city!!)

I like strong minds against the face of apparent hopelessness.

Without hope, we are nothing, dontcha think?

Best get back to the meeting. Lunch period is over...
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