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Today members of the ongoing session on Peace, Justice and Development came together to summarize the situation and ascertain what the Church has done so far to ameliorate the ailing situation of the populace in our West African Subregion. Over the years we have witnessed lots of terrorism, human trafficking and pocket ethnic wars leading to displacements of various citizens. The participants unanimously agreed that Caritas and JDPC should brace up and do more in the area of advocacy.

One point very glaring is that we should make the concerns of the citizens known to our bishops who may not be aware of all the ills starring at our faces. Corruption in various countries in West African is a major concern to the participants. A participant in this session from Gambia opened our eyes to the level of atrocities going on in the country where the leaders want to turn the country into a Muslim country. Presently the Christians in this country are under serious persecution since they constitute an insignificant minority with only one Diocese and one bishop who has been working night and day with the few Catholics therein to defend the Christian faith. Therefore, an urgent call has been sent to the bishops of RECOWA-CERAO to throw in their weight and assist this lone voice in this desert filled up with wild lions.

Our emphasis is on JUSTICE and HUMAN RIGHT. All the clamor about poverty, insecurity, mismanagement of natural resources hinge around Justice and respect for human right. Here we talk of ecological justice as well which implies taking care of God’s natural gifts to man.  The point is that we are morally obliged to care for every God’s creation. We are bound in conscience to create an environment where every creature will strive and earn his/her living. From here we came down to social Justice which implies the equitable distribution of the social amenities, giving everyone equal opportunity to succeed. There must be no segregation in employment and distribution of God given wealth of the country.

When we guarantee the ecological, social and economic justices then the society will triumph in various dimensions.  It has been proved without doubt that some leaders in most of our African countries are heartless and self-centered and our bishops are therefore advised and encouraged to meet with these leaders for adequate political advocacy.

Mr. Vitus Adaboo from Ghana speaking as an independent consultant espoused advocacy as the principal solution to all the existential problems since it involves public awareness of the current situation. Advocacy therefore has the capacity of creating and/or changing an existing policy. It is important to know that advocacy is not only meant for the government but it can also be targeted to ordinary people and the common man in the village. This implies that there are various dimension of advocacy and we must not fail to understand this fact. Advocacy calls for a lot of financial balance, courage and asense of sacrifice because there are challenges and obstacles on the way of advocacy.

At this point, there was need to draw a line between lobbying and advocacy. While lobbying is often geared towards selfish interest, advocacy is aimed always at the good of the masses.  Another name which one may likely grant to lobbying is bribery. One important advocacy which we overlook at times is what one may term right based advocacy. We have typical examples in a democracy like the budget advocacy, issue-based advocacy, ideological advocacy etc. In all, advocacy may be misunderstood when advocacy is carried out on the basis of particular group interest, advocacy shifts into lobbying.

When you are carrying out an advocacy, there must be a roadmap and a yard stick to measure the success. Finally, in advocacy we are warned not to be insolent but package our message in such a way that it will draw the attention of ome’s interlocutor.