From Functionalism to Regional Integration: A Critical Evaluation of the Problems and Prospects of ECOWAS

No Thumbnail Available
Akinbobola, A.
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
University of Lagos
This Dissertation analyses the functionalist assumptions and evaluates them in the light of ECOWAS experience. An important rationale for this is to ascertain the degree to which a European based origin of functionalist theory despite the underdevelopment character of the ECOWAS sub-region makes functionalism as a theory of integration an attractive policy guide in the sub-regions developmental process. An important proposition investigated in this dissertation is the contention that rather than under-mine the prospects for regional socio-economic development, functional integration in West Africa, symbolised by ECOWAS, provides effective mechanism for fast socio-economic development in the sub-region. The proposition is even enhanced by the emphasis in the ECOWAS charter that specifically recognises that collective self-reliance as a development strategy should help to ameliorate the socio-economic development of the sub-region in the efforts to improve the living conditions of the people. Other related proposition investigated in this dissertation among others are: (a) (a) The extent to which ECOWAS member states could succeed in their integrative process given the determination of the Metropoles to retain their dominance and protect their interest through their several interactions. (b) The extent to which ECOWAS states could pursue the integrative process in promoting the sub-region socio-economic development and its self-reliance without denying themselves of whatever advantages derived from their contacts with the metropolis. (c) What could be the likely socio-political constraints that could frustrate the integrative process and what should be done to minimize their negative effects on the process to establish supra-national institutions and authority in the sub-region. What lessons could one learn from the East African experience. The study evaluates a number of historical, cultural, geopolitical, language, economic and other related factors that had even in pre-colonial West Africa enhanced trade and commercial links which have all contributed to the contemporary efforts to promote functional integration among ECOWAS states. It evaluates the influences of nationalism ideology and leadership factors and their possible impact on the integrative process. It analysis the diplomatic initiative by Nigeria along with Togo which culminated in the formation of ECOWAS. Emphasis is placed on the existence of a number of smaller functional units among some of the member states arising from local needs and circumstances. However to the extent that the goals of these organization are not exactly conflicting but partly complementary. ECOWAS serves not only as the all embracing organization for the sub-regional groupings (CEAO, Entete Council, Senegal River Basin, Gambia River basin, Mano River Union etc.) but as the truly integrated organization that aspires to effectively tackle the main divergences and contradictions in the sub-region. The activities of the ECA in dividing Africa into areas of sub-regional groups is analysed. Also evaluated is the degree to which the OAU Economic summit from which the Lagos plan of action was formulated is considered as furthering the aims and objectives of ECOWAS. An important assumption of the functionalist theory is that the presence of a large number of bureaucrats sharing a common experience and willing to make gains from activities within a supra-national context is essential for the advancement for regional integration: the ECOWAS experience suggests that this particular important aspect of functionalist theory possesses a potentiality useful explanation of the integrative process. This dissertation argues that the existence of such bureacrafts, coupled with their perceptions, is very essential for the development of the integrative system. Firstly, it is also noted that despite the existence of the different social, political, economic and other related problem of the member states and the recognition of the issue of attachment to sovereignty as possible stumbling blocks to regional integration in the sub-region, the reality of 'ECOWAS' as a supra-national institution could no longer be disputed. There is an increasing recognition by member states about the capacity of ECOWAS to serve the diverse and in some cases the common interests of the member states. Secondly, this study has shown the crucial role of the Executive Secretary in providing the required administrative and leadership guide that could ensure the success of the integration scheme. Through the active involvement of the Executive Secretariat, the Council of Heads of State has passed a number of resolutions in furtherance of the aims and objectives of the community. The dissertation also identifies a number of areas that would create problems for the organization. The first relates to the issue of ideological differences and their impact on the harmonisation of industrial policies in a way to attract both foreign and local investors. Such an approach promises to ensure that the powerful Trans National Companies (TNC) would be constrained to work within a bargaining context which would be more advantageous to the interests of the member states. Secondly, the decline in agricultural products has been identified in this study as a potentially difficult problem. As agrarian and relatively non-industrial sub-region, the ECOWAS states are in an advantageous position to be self-sufficient in food production. The reality of the situation however is that almost all the member states have to rely on the importation of food to feed the populace. Such incentives as would allow the farmer to get commensurate remuneration for his farm products must be devised to encourage higher food production. The infrastructural facilities that will make the rural area accessible have to be provided. An important theoretical finding from this study relates to the role of regional influentials in the integrative process. The functionalist assumption that the more affluent states might show little or no interests in the integrative, scheme has not been validated in this study. While Nigeria for example has effectively utilised functionalism as an instrument of her foreign policy since the early 1960s, her emergence as a regional influential has coincided with an awareness by her political leadership of the country's regional responsibilities. Such responsibilities are defined within the requirements of her national interests and the dictates of politics, economics and security issues as her participation in ECOWAS would seem to dictate. There is no evidence to believe that the much publicised functionalist assumption that factors influencing the major actors at the formative stages may explain the path of the integrative process has been validated in this study. The East African experience as it relates to Kenya has shown the extent to which a regional influential might be tempted to attract a larger proportion of the benefits from integration because of the limits in her resource. Such temptations could lead such schemes to institutional instability and consequent disintegration. The theoretical point of relevance for ECOWAS from the East African experience therefore is that a regional influential like Nigeria within ECOWAS could not emphasise what benefits that must immediately accrue to her at the expense of the less influential members of the community like Upper Volta, Niger, Mauritania, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde among others. Even though a cost-benefit analysis would suggests that Nigeria should be entitled to as much as her contribution to ECOWAS might be, it is the contention of this Dissertation that the best time to seek for such benefits should be when the community has withstood the challenges of the formative stages. Even at that stage, it might not be easy to quantify Nigeria's benefits as those of the less influential member states. Another theoretical finding from the Dissertation is that while it is difficult to separate economic and social task from politics in the integrative process, success in functional integration actually depends more on definite political "acts or will" by Governmental leaders to bring more meaningful expressions to the integrative process in the economic and social sectors. In this context effective publicity needs to be mounted to publicise the positive aspects and possibilities of ECOWAS. Therefore, it is necessary to create the necessary awareness among the member states, specialised interest groups and the generality of the citizenry that it is just not enough for the organization to pass resolutions alone, such resolutions must be implemented in order to achieve the set goals of the community. The dissertation has also shown that functionalism in the LDCS in general and ECOWAS in particular must be perceived on the basis of high politics and the influences of leadership factors within the community in order to strengthen institutional stability, promote collective self-reliance and to encourage the growth of sub-regional interdependence. It is also clear from the study that all the member states are still faced with the challenges of nation-building and national integration. Such a commitment is, however, being pursued simultaneously with the demands for sub-regional integration as a vehicle to ameliorate the problems of under-development in order to improve the material well-being of the citizenry. Finally, this dissertation shows that functionalism as originally developed by David Mitrany several decades ago, and modified by other functional theorists, when seen from the ECOWAS experiences, serves as a very relevant theoretical guide in our developmental process.
Full Text Attached
Functional Integration , ECOWAS
Akinbobola, A (1984) From Functionalism to Regional Integration: A Critical Evaluation of the Problems and Prospects of Ecowas. University of Lagos School of Postgraduate Studies Phd Thesis and Dissertation Abstracts