The serene and historic coastal city of Winneba, which is the capital of the Effutu Municipal Assembly in Ghana’s Central Region, is to host two major international meetings later this year.

It follows a remarkable decision at the recent session of The Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which seats in Nigeria’s federal capital, Abuja.

Accordingly, in July this year, Winneba, a historic fishing port city situated near the Ayensu River, will host the delocalised meeting of the ECOWAS Parliament.

Then, in September, it will host over 200 international dignitaries, including Members of the ECOWAS Parliament, for an Extraordinary Meeting. However, the details of the two important meetings are, for now, scanty.

Situated some 66 kilometres southwest of Ghana’s capital, Accra, and along the Gulf of Guinea, Winneba as host of the two upcoming meetings is significant for many reasons.

First, Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo currently Chairs the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS. Secondly, Effutu MP, Alexander Kwamena Afenyo-Markin, leads Ghana’s delegation to the ECOWAS Parliament in Abuja.

Also, apart from its clean and pristine beaches, colourful mascot groups, and deer hunting traditions, all of which serve as attractions for local and international tourists, Winneba occupies a special place in the heart of the struggle to free Africa from colonial rule and imperialism.

One of the main reasons is that it hosts the Kwame Nkrumah Institute of Economics and Political Science, otherwise known as the Winneba Ideological Institute.

The Institute was established in 1961 to educate Ghanaians and other nationalists around Africa on how to work with their people to attain self-rule and further nation-building efforts.

African nationalists who received education at the Institute included Zimbabwe’s independence leader, Robert Mugabe and some of his Zimbabwe African National Union party cadres.

The upcoming meetings of the ECOWAS Parliament, an important regional pillar supporting efforts to unite Africa, are coming to Winneba precisely 60 years after the Winneba Ideological Institute opened.

In a Citi News interview, Afenyo-Markin, whose constituency includes Winneba, stated that “the crucial role played by the historic coastal city in churning out critical human resource to lead the struggle to liberate and integrate Africa makes it a very ideal and attractive host.”

Winneba is rising

“Winneba is an amazing coastal city with a rich history and remarkable culture,” says Afenyo-Markin, who recently returned from Abuja after taking part in the proceedings of the ECOWAS Parliament. “Since I became the MP of Effutu, we have been working so hard to fully develop Winneba’s true potential as both a business hub, tourist destination and land of endless opportunities for all citizens who dare to dream.”

“We have already made significant progress in many areas,” he adds.

“We are strategically improving the livelihoods of the people through calculated investments in very critical areas. I am talking about education, small scale industries, housing, access to health, and hospitality. The result is that modern education facilities are coming to Effutu, modern homes and residential facilities are being built, and sustainable jobs are being created and more.”

“The ultimate dream is to develop Effutu in general to such a level as to make it an attractive destination of choice for major local and international businesses, events and conferences. Therefore, the decision by the ECOWAS Parliament to have Winneba host ECOWAS MPs for the meetings could not have come at a more opportune time.”

“We have already started making all the necessary preparations to host the two events successfully,” states Afenyo-Markin. “We intend to make all our visitors feel at home throughout their days in Ghana and leave with the best possible memories of our people and our culture.”

According to Afenyo-Markin, “the potential impact of the two international conferences on Winneba’s economy, and the people Effutu in general, will be phenomenal.”

Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament in Accra

In a related development, the Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament, Sidie Mohamed Tunis, was in Accra on Monday to pay a courtesy call on President Akufo-Addo and the Speaker of Ghana’s Parliament, Alban S.K. Bagbin.

Dr Tinus was accompanied by Edwin Melvin Snowe Jnr and Mahama Ayariga. The two men are both MPs in Liberia and Ghana, respectively. Afenyo-Markin, the Deputy Majority Leader in Ghana’s Parliament, led the visiting ECOWAS Speaker and his delegation to the Jubilee House and office of Speaker in Accra.

Among other things, Dr Tinus was in Ghana to thank President Akufo-Addo for addressing the opening ceremony of the First 2021 Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament held on Thursday, 27 May 2021 in Nigeria.

A major highlight of the Ghanaian leader’s speech was a call for the enhancement of the powers of the ECOWAS Parliament.

In his view, this would flow from the implementation of Article 18 of the Supplementary Act relating to the Enhancement of the Powers of the ECOWAS Parliament. It provides that “Representatives shall be elected by direct universal suffrage by the citizens of Member States”.

During his visit, Dr Tinus used the opportunity to officially inform both President Akufo-Addo and Speaker Bagbin of the decision to have Winneba host the upcoming meetings.

Extraordinary ECOWAS Summit Over Mali

Ahead of the Winneba meetings in July and September this year, Ghana will host an Extraordinary ECOWAS Summit in Accra.

Reports suggest that the political situation in Mali is developing into escalating tensions after the West African nation’s President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane were overthrown by the army officer who staged a coup last year and became the Vice-President of an interim government formed after that.

Justifying his second coup, Col Assimi Goïta claimed that President Bah Ndaw and PM Moctar Ouane had failed in their duties and were taking steps to sabotage the country’s transition.

President Ndaw and PM Ouane were arrested hours after two army officers were replaced in a government reshuffle in Bamako.

Col Goïta has publicly stated that elections will still be held next year as planned but ignored calls from the United Nations, the African Union, the ECOWAS, the European Union, and the United States that the President and Prime Minister be freed without any preconditions.

Since their arrest, President Ndaw and PM Ouane have been detained at a military camp outside Mali’s capital, Bamako.

“In line with the ECOWAS protocol on democracy and good governance, the President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo-Addo, in his capacity as chair of the ECOWAS authority of heads of state and government, following due consultations with his peers decided to convene this extraordinary summit,” Ghana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, announced in Accra on Monday.

According to Ghana’s lead diplomat, “The purpose of the Summit is to enable the authority to deliberate and take consequential decisions on the evolving political and security situation in the Republic of Mali”.

Richard Dela Sky

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