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1.1        Background to the Study

Nigeria, being the most populous country in Africa, has been described as “the giant of Africa, benevolent hegemony”. Besides, Nigeria gained independence in October 1st 1960. By the time of her independence, Nigeria‟s foreign policy guidelines had been formulated by the departing colonial power. These were embodied in a maiden foreign policy statement made by the first civilian prime minister on 20 August 1960 just a few months before formal independence. According to him, Nigeria would follow an independent policy founded on Nigeria‟s interest and consistent with the moral and democratic principles on which our constitution is based.

Paradoxically, it is Nigeria‟s own dominant position in the region and the implication of her leader‟s commitment to the western model of development in circumstances (National as well as Global) hostile to such a course that may well be the most formidable obstacle to the emergence of the community. Indeed, it can be argued that ECOWAS drew considerable strength from the successful negotiation which had been concluded by the EEC with the combined representatives of African, Caribbean and Pacific states as contained in the Lome convention. This unity in the face of a strong and equality United Europe (not withstanding some minor differences within the EEC) impressed, Nigerian leaders in a way that an Economic Community of West Africa, modeled after the European Economic Community, was an immediate imperative.

This conviction led Nigeria to expand a lot of her resources in the campaign for the establishment of ECOWAS. The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa in Resolutions 142 (viii) and 145 (vii) passed at its seventh session held in Nairobi, Kenya in February, 1965


recommended that member-states of the commission should establish, as soon as possible on sub-regional basis, an inter-governmental machinery for harmonizing their economic and social development. The relative success of the integrative process in other sub-regions of Africa especially in the East African Sub-region with its East African Community provided the stimulus to the countries in the West African Sub-region to evolve their own form of economic co-operation. The arguments for an economic integration always appear overwhelming.

In West Africa, a series of conference sponsored by the ECA culminated in many countries signing the Article of Association for a West African Economic Community in Accra in 1967. A year later, another conference in Monrovia produced a protocol which set up, on paper, A West African Economic Grouping. It also provided that West African Leaders should meet in Ouagadougou, capital of Upper Volta, to sign a treaty of Economic Union. That summit never took place. The only achievement of the group was the preparation by Nigeria and Guinea of priority studies of areas of co-operation.

As mentioned earlier, there had been various attempt at regional co-operation in West Africa before the attainment of independence but these had very high colonial flavour, as such arrangements were dictated by the colonial powers. The countries under France established socio-economic and political co-operation among themselves while those under Britain did the same. So, any form of co-operation between countries across colonial lines were non-existent. While France administered it West African territories separately but only centralized the various services in the territories under a single administration. At independence, these co-operative arrangements collapsed except in the former French West African countries that maintained the Union Douamere de L‟ Afrique de L‟ Qaust (UDAO) which was founded in 1959. The UDAO went through a lot of transformation and from 1972 became known as Communaute de L‟ AfriqueCentrale (UDEAC).


The long history of ECOWAS can be said to have commenced when in 1964, the Late President of Liberia, William Tubman first mooted the idea of a free trade area in the region. He subsequently convened a meeting in Monrovia which was attended by representatives of Ivory Coast, Guinea and Sierra Leone to discuss his proposal.

The representatives of the four countries met in February 1965 and after a long deliberation for economic co-operation which was aimed at “removing trade barriers and encouraging the harmonious development of the respective states” Nothing substantial was achieved until in 1972 when Nigeria and Togo (two countries sharing not many things in common) jointly took the initiative to establish west African economic community with stubborn determination to succeed backed up by abundance of political good will the treaty of ECOWAS was signed in Lagos on 28th May,1975. But the ECOWAS came into legal existence only on 27th June, 1975 after the treaty had been ratified by nine countries (i.e. Nigeria, Liberia, Togo, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Upper Volta, Gambia and Benin in that order)6 Then followed the first ECOWAS ministerial council which was held in Accra in 1976.

Thus following a series of meetings in 1975 and 76, fifteen West African countries – Nigeria, Benin Republic, Togo, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Liberia Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau, Gambia, Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Upper Volta and Niger – set forth a treaty establishing ECOWAS. The treaty for an Economic Community of West African State otherwise known as the treaty of Lagos on 28th May, 1975. The protocols launching ECOWAS were signed in Lome, Togo on 5th November, 1976. A revised ECOWAS treaty designed to accelerate economic integration and to increase political co-operation was signed in July, 1993.

ECOWAS, as the name implies is an economic regional organization which was primarily meant to integrate the domestic economies of the states in the West Africa sub-region.


It may be pertinent to recall that in 1972, six French-speaking West African countries met in the Ivory Coast and at the end of two-day summit in Abidjan, formally launched their own version of a West African Economic Community the CEAO. The conference was attended by Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, Ivory Coast, Upper Volta, Niger while Dahomey (Benin) and Togo participated as observers. The launching of the CEAO, to many observers, was the brain-child of France to forestall any integration of the Anglophone and Francophone countries of West Africa.

Wiser counsel prevailed in the African Leaders and so in Lome (Togo) in November 1976, many African heads of state met to make the first decision of the organization, whose goals could be compared to that of the East African Community (EAC). The Lome Agreement symbolizing the unanimous acceptance by all fifteen West African States of the principle of creation of ECOWAS marked a significant milestone in the history of regional integration in West Africa.

The Heads of State of the member countries of the community at that summit made resolutions and enactments in order to establish the community. It was agreed that the permanent secretariat (its headquarters) be located in Lagos and its fund for co-operation, compensation and development be sited at Lome.

It was also agreed that the post of Executive Secretary go to an Ivory Coast national and that a Liberian be Managing Director of the Lome fund.

The Heads of States signing alphabetical order, approved five protocols to the original charter:

A:                 Protocols relating to the definition of the concept of products originating from member states of the ECOWAS.

B:                 Protocol relating to the re-exportation within the community of goods imported from third world countries.

C:                 Protocol on the assessment of loss of revenue by member states.

D:                 Protocol relating to the contributions by member states of the community, and


E:                  Protocol relating to the fund for co-operation, compensation and development.

The aims of ECOWAS are to promote co-operation and development in the e

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