Dr. Samuel Lamptey, Representatives of the ECOWAS Commission in Cape Verde says religious intolerance poses a threat to West Africa’s region’s development and integration process.
Lamptey made this known at the ongoing delocalised meeting of ECOWAS Parliament’s joint Committee of Education, Science and Culture/ Committee on Health/Committee on Telecommunications and Information Technology in Praia, Cape Verde.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the meeting which is holding from Sept. 13 to Sept. 18 is with the theme, “Religious tolerance and harmony: Essential factors for development, peace and stability in the ECOWAS region”.
Lamptey said that economic development and integration of the sub-region could not be guaranteed in the absence of peace and security, the ECOWAS Community of West African States.
Lamptey stressed the need to address the root cause of extremism and also prevent radicalisation, saying that this had become necessary if the region was to achieve its cooperation and integration agenda.
“The ECOWAS Community of West African States-ECOWAS, created on May 28,1975, by the Lagos Treaty, has the mission of promoting regional cooperation and integration.
“With a view to create an economic union in West Africa and thus contributing to improving the standard of living of their populations.
“However, the cyclical conflicts and the instability that occurred in our subregion in the 1990s, early 2000s and that continue to the present day, led to the conclusion .
“That the desired economic prosperity, translated into the guarantee of economic growth, promotion of good relations between member states, progress and development of the African continent, cannot be achieved in the absence of peace and security in the sub-region.”
Dr. Orlando Dias, Head of Cape Verde delegation and Chair, ECOWAS Parliament Committee on Health urged his colleagues on the need to to identify the root cause of religious crisis, with the view to strengthen integration.
Dias also stressed that integration could be easy if attempts were made to prevent some of the religious conflicts in the region.
He added that this had made it imperative for the people to understand the importance of tolerance, peace and security.
Co-chair of the Parliament’s joint Committee, Hon. Aime Assie noted that the meeting was brought to Cape Verde to bring the parliament closer to the people and create a region without borders.
Assie said that the meeting was also an opportunity to have a new approach to threats to peace and security in West Africa.
He stressed that the parliament has a role to play to change the mentality of the people.
He, therefore, said the meeting will come up with a report that would be adopted in the next session.
“The need for parliament to go close to the populations to be able to consolidate the foundation of democracy to ensure that every citizen of our community is involved in creating a region with a border prosperous and where the development of citizens is the focus.
“Preventive initiatives must be increased, to be sure that all these issues are handled that is why we have the objective of creating the platform of sharing of information containing religious leaders, traditional leaders within West Africa.
“To look into issues of peace and reconciliation and this meeting, here is an opportunity for us to come up with a new approach to have peace within this area.
“We are bringing in the traditional leaders who can come up with very important issues with regards to how to bring peace at the costs,” Assie said.
Cape Verde’s Minister of Culture, Filomena Goncalves said that it was impossible to talk about development without peace and dignity of the people.
“We have six sacred principles that are enshrined, meaning that all human beings are created equally, and they are created by God with very important rights and we have government to protect and defend such rights.
” This meeting is very pertinent, in my opinion, to speak about tolerance and religious harmony as essential factors for development, peace and stability in the ECOWAS region.
“It is basically considered a very important theme for all of us, as seen in one factor for the sustainable development of Mother Africa,” Goncalves said.