Ecowas Commission challenges Journalists to be conflict sensitive reporters

Thursday, June 28, 2018

In a target to consolidate its peace building and conflict resolution processes, the Commission of the West African regional bloc, Ecowas has appealed to journalists from the region to be conflict sensitive reporters.

At the opening of a 3-day training on the role of the media in promoting peace and security in West Africa in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja on Monday, Ecowas Commission’s Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS) General Francis Behanzin said the exercise will enable the building of effective channels of communication, visibility and networking towards the successful implementation of the Ecowas peace and security agenda.

Commissioner Behanzin charged the journalists, drawn from the 15-Member States of the Community, to be committed to the attainment of Vision 2020 which seeks to have an Ecowas of the people rather than of States.

He stated that as the fourth estate of the realm, journalists in the region are indirectly the real decision makers on account of their being the history, the memory, the culture of the citizens, the voice of the voiceless and the active actors and opinion makers.

Stressing further that as key collaborators, media practitioners are the eyes, the tongue, the feet of the nations, saying, “as the salt and light of our societies, journalists should be pillars of enhanced Ecowas visibility as well as the entrenchment of the Community’s policies and programmes in Member States.

 Representing the acting director of Communication, Arthur Obayuwana stressed that the exercise is one of the series of refresher courses primed to enhance the capacity of journalists to better inform the 300 million citizens of West African region. “It will help create the necessary awareness and provide sustained visibility for integration activities while promoting peace and security in the Ecowas region,” he said.

   Manager of Ecowas Peace Fund, Dieudonne Nikiema said information and communication are important components for the joint construction of Ecowas Vision 2020. He expressed hope that in close collaboration, the Ecowas Commission and journalists would share valuable and useful information which can be employed to co-build a partnership and communication network to support the ECOWAS peace and security agenda

He thanked the European Union (EU) for its continued support of the regional integration programme and the peace and security architecture in West Africa while noting the enthusiasm for and commitment of the selected journalists to become partners for peace building and stability.

Head of European Union (EU) Regional Cooperation Section Stefania Marrone reiterated the aim of the EU support to Ecowas Peace, Security and Stability (PSS) mandate project which, she said is to support Ecowas in its objective to ensure the security and safety of its people by proactive, peaceful means.

She said the EU financial and moral support enables the Ecowas Commission to execute its conflict prevention and resolution mandate in a sustainable, proactive way - specifically by strengthening the institutional and managerial capacity of the directorates with responsibility for this sector. 

Author: Yusupha Bojang in Abuja, Nigeria