By Angela Atabo
A retired Nigerian diplomat, Mr Zango Abdu, on Thursday said Morocco’s bid to join the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) may pose serious security threat to the region.
He said this in a panel discussion, which examined the security “Implication of the Ascension of Morocco to ECOWAS” at a high-level dialogue on opportunities and threats of the ascension in Abuja.
“Nigeria is the biggest military power in West Africa; it has the biggest economy in the region and the panel that discussed security discussed how Boko Haram affected Nigeria, Chad, Cameron and Niger.
“One of the issues that came up is to say that Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is gaining stronger ground in Morocco,” Abdu, who chaired the panel, said.
He warned that if Nigeria failed to take higher interest in this issue of Morocco joining ECOWAS, it was most likely that the youths joining ISIS in Morocco or Libya would find their ways into the country.
This, according to Abdu, is the reason for the commencement of the agitation against Morocco’s bid to join ECOWAS starting from Abuja, the headquarters of ECOWAS.
Meanwhile, stakeholders at the ECOWAS Dialogue on Morocco’s proposed membership of the bloc have advised against the acceptance of the country into the community.
In a communiqué at the end of their session, they said that the fact that Morocco belonged to North Africa, was an automatic disqualification for its bid.
The communiqué read by Mr Shamsudeen Yusuf, Senior Programmes Officer, at the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Morocco’s accession to ECOWAS would not be beneficial to the regional body and its countries.
It stated that currently, the Kingdom of Morocco was plagued by high unemployment, public and foreign debt, and was predominantly an agro-based economy.
According to it, this placed her more as a burden to the regional body than stimulant of economy growth and development.
It pointed out that Morocco had a multiplicity of membership, and was potentially a proxy for France’s neo-liberal preoccupation in West Africa, which portended more danger to political and economic development of West Africa.
The stakeholders added that Nigeria had been playing “mother goose” role within the regional body for several years, and that accession of Morocco to ECOWAS may create tension between both countries.