Democracy and Development – Journal of West African Affairs Vol.4 No.2, Editors Note

Issue Date 2004
Volume 4
Issue 2
Page Numbers 5-7
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A core objective of this journal is to bring both mainstream scholarship and policy analysis into a fruitful coincidence with regard to the examination of socio-political and economic processes across the West African sub-region. Our choice of articles in this edition has been largely informed by this binocular vision, the aim being to capture the significant events taking place in different parts of West Africa, while acknowledging the fact that some of the issues under focus are yet to be fully resolved and as such may require further research before any reasonable conclusions can be reached. One such issue is the ongoing impasse in Cote d’Ivoire which has continued to stimulate scholarly reflections from a variety of disciplines, not least history, conflict studies, international relations, political science and social anthropology. W. Alade Fawole’s article borrows perspectives from each of these approaches, although his main attention is focused on the problems of peace-making in general. In the process, he sheds crucial light on the genesis of the conflict, the historical responsibilities of individual actors, and perhaps most crucially, the way in which the political instrumentalisation of both religion and ethnicity has plunged the country into a crisis which even the most pessimistic observer of the Cote d’Ivoire scene could not have anticipated, say a decade, ago. Fawole situates the intervention of ECOWAS, still smarting from its controversial involvement in the crisis in Liberia, within this tragic cauldron, and concludes that lasting peace can only return to the country if ECOWAS and other interested actors (including those outside the region) can put aside their differences to work together for peace. For the beleaguered country, it would seem, the future looks heavily overcast, especially given the vagaries of peacekeeping and peace making in general.
It is tempting to think that the Cote d’Ivoire can learn a lesson or two from Nigeria, clearly the driving force in ECOWAS, and itself riddled with endemic ethnic and religious contradictions. For all their apparent divergence, Fawole’s article on the crisis in Cote d’Ivoire and Abu Bakarr Bah’s reflections on the dilemma of nation-state building in Nigeria share a poignant commonality – the continuing salience of religion and, in particular, ethnicity, as different (West) African countries attempt to build democratically viable states. Thus, the theme that Abu Bah’s analysis privileges – the antinomies of national integration within the ambit of inter-ethnic struggle for resources – is one that clearly resonates, not only across the sub-region, but generally in the continent as well. Indeed, if there is any moral to be drawn from the Nigerian experience, it is that issues bordering on ethnicity and identity tend to enjoy a certain resilience, making them not problems to be solved, but historical conditions to be managed. Crucial to this process of management, Bah argues, are such factors as civic education and, more important, a deeply embedded democratic disposition.
Okechukwu Ibeanu and Nkwachukwu Orji powerfully underscore the importance of what might be called the habit of democracy in their dissection of

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