By Morlai Kargbo
Renown lawyer and humanitarian activist from Sierra Leone, who was recently appointed as chairperson of the African Union Economic, Social and Cultural Committee (AU-ECOSOCC), Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai Esq, has assured the gathering of civil society leaders and African political heads in Casablanca, Morocco, that the AU-ECOSOCC will promote the participation of African civil society in the implementation of policies and programs of the Union and strongly support policies and programs that will promote peace, security and stability and foster development and integration in the continent. Speaking at a Conference organised to focus on better conditions for refugees and displaced persons within the continent, he called on African leaders to fight against corruption and provide better conditions for refugees and displaced persons within the continent.
The Conference was hosted by the Moroccan Government on 5th and 6th August and was focused on the role Morocco has in pushing the AU’s agenda on forced migration, internally displaced persons and refugees.
Mr. Abdulai lauded Morocco for leading the policy reforms and implementation of the African Union Refugees, Returnees, and Internally Displaced Persons, which was the theme for this year’s AU-ECOSOCC conference and said that Morocco has established the laboratory to gather data on forced migration, internally displaced persons and refugees.
“We urge the Moroccan government to expedite these processes for speedy reforms” he stated.
He said the AU’s framework on refugee and internally displaced persons calls for action to eradicate the root cause of the humanitarian situation, adding that it is a situation that all must look at and examine the causes of civil war, forced migration and lack of economic opportunities.
Mr. Saffa Abdulai emphasised that the AU-ECOSOCC will promote and defend the culture of good governance, democratic principles and institutions, popular participation, human rights and freedoms as well as social justice; and also promote, advocate and defend a culture of gender equality, adding that the Committee will work towards promoting continuous dialogue between all segments of the African people on issues concerning Africa and forge strong partnership between governments and all segments of civil society, especially women, the youth, children, the diaspora, organised labour, private sector and professional groups.
On issues of corruption, the new Chairman said that the African continent is plagued by corruption, mainly due to the absence of good governance but that African leaders, whom he said know the problems, have been stepping out of the cold in the past year to highlight the issues due to the AU’s centralized fight against corruption.
“Corruption has perverted national resources, denying millions the opportunity to get food on the table and forcing the young and old to flee. Corruption has starved nations from foreign investments, strangled local investments and deprived the people of Africa economic growth that provides jobs and opportunities. Certainly, corruption has led many young people to flee even at the risk of crossing the Mediterranean Sea by unsafe means” Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai affirmed.
He begged for an aggressive use of the “African Convention against Corruption” to minimise corruption by African leaders and urged member states to domesticate the document and provide the political will to fight graft.
On Democracy and good governance, Mr Abdulai said, the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance would be a good framework towards addressing the root causes behind refugees, returnees and displaced persons. He therefore called on leaders to move away from unconstitutional changes of government and asked that sitting governments avoid changing constitutions to prolong their stay in governance.
“The African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance is a great document and needs to be implemented wholesomely”, he noted. Adding that democracy that focuses on the provision of social services such as clean water, food, education for the young, the poor and the needy, needs to be the order of the day.