By Chinyere Amalu
ABUJAâ€”Senate President, David Mark, has challenged members of ECOWAS Parliament to focus on the enhancement of laws binding member states, even as he frowned at low implementation of the ECOWAS protocols.
Speaking at the opening of first ordinary session of ECOWAS Parliament yesterday in Abuja, the Nigerian Senate President said it is only through stiffer laws that the region can move forward in its integration process.
He pointed out that Nigeria is committed to the implementation of ECOWAS protocol on free movement of persons, right to residence and establishment in furtherance of the objectives of the Commission.
He, however, charged the parliament to â€œmake concerted efforts to integrate as a community rather than as fragments of people living in isolation who only come together when there is clear and inherent threat to our existence and economic progress.”
His words: â€œYou have the onerous task of setting democratic agenda and precedence for social cohesion in line with the vision and expectation of our founding fathers. In this regard, you must be the vibrant and dynamic watchdog of democracy in the sub-region by being proactive and sensitive to our common needs; our general aspirations should be translated into practical realities.
â€œAny parliament that cannot make a binding law does not deserve the name, â€œparliament. I challenge you to focus on the enhancement of your powers. The implementation of the ECOWAS protocol is very slow. A lot has been said about this in the past, the time for its realization is now.”
David Mark noted that the budget of the sub-regional organisation and key appointment into the Commission, should be approved by the parliament, adding, â€œthis should be the barest minimum of your legislative powers.
â€œYour oversight of the activities of the Commission and other institutions of the community is necessary for the development of democratic principles of checks and balances,â€ Mark said
He also called for constant and sustained networking among the national Parliaments, adding that establishment of ECOWAS Parliamentary Liaison offices in respect of National Parliament is one of the ways of strengthening parliamentary relationship in the sub-region.