BY Victoria Ojeme
Nigeria Senate President, Ahmed Lawan has urged leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) region to desist from dictatorship and allow for wide ranges of ideas as envisioned in democracy.
Lawan also appealed for regional integration noting that it would promote commerce, trade, investment, collective economic growth and the wellbeing of the region.
The Senate President made the following remarks while declaring the 2021 Second Ordinary Session of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) parliament in Abuja, Nigeria.
According to him, “Regional integration is for instance, core to us all and has demanded attention, because of its importance to our commerce, trade, investment, collective economic growth and wellbeing of our people.
“Strengthening democracy is significant for the representative qualities of the governance system, and for stimulating integration and involvement of the large spectrum of the citizenry and against the background of pockets of threats to its sustenance in some of our countries”.
He continued, “Democracy has become priceless as a system of government bearing in mind the weakness of dictatorship and the strengths in democracy. As parliamentarians, we 3a bastion of culture of democracy and the onus is always on us to portray its core essences, including freedom, opportunities, growth and development”.
The President of the Senate also urged all regional leaders to adopt the system of continuity in order to improve institutions and productivity, efficiency and efficacy.
On his part, the Deputy Speaker of the Nigeria House of Representatives, Ahmed Idris Wase while speaking to journalists at the session also stressed the need for regional integration as the key essence of promoting development and growth amongst the ECOWAS region.
“Nigeria has been doing alot in calming tempers. We called on our own in Sierra Leon and other countries that have problems of insecurity and the challenge of coup de tat. Our intervention also in Gambia can not be overemphasized. We have been there for our brothers, so Nigeria is doing it best”.
Speaking on the challenges of insecurity in the subregion, the Deputy Speaker said the Members of the ECOWAS parliament were doing their best to curb the menace.
“Security is everybody’s business, we need the support of the entirety of the subregion to be able to solve the problem. The challenges of arms from Libya finding their way into the country is another issue. Talking about collaboration, in terms of ourselves as Members of Parliament, i believe we are doing our best to stem the insecurity in the region. We are doing our best in exposing, arresting and prosecuting”.
In his remarks, Speaker of the ECOWAS parliament, Sidie Tunis assured the parliament of it willingness to discuss the issue of direct election during one of it meeting that will take place in January, 22 in the republic Togo.
“In January 2022, we will be holding another meeting in Togo and we are going to deal with the issue of direct election extensively.
“I wish to report to you that we are making significant moves in our quest for Direct Election of Members into the ECOWAS Parliament. You may wish to recall that during the 2nd Extraordinary Session in Winneba, Ghana, we requested His Excellency, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana and Chairman of the Authority of Heads of State & Government to serve as champion of the project.
Recall also that we requested His Excellency Mohamadou Issoufou, former President of the Republic of Niger and former Chair of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State & Government, to serve as Chief Advocate, while His Excellency Dr. Mohamed Chambas, former President of the ECOWAS Commission, former Secretary-General, Africa, Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP) and the former Special Representative for the Secretary General and the Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa was requested to serve Assistant Chief Advocate. Having been assured of their excellencies concurrence, we set out to address the following key areas:
a. The modalities for the conduct and financing of the election of Members to the ECOWAS Parliament;
b. The electoral Code for the election; as well as
c. The proposal for the code of conduct for Candidates in the election”.
Meanwhile, the Speaker also said the main focus of the current session was to deliberate on the 2022 budget of the ECOWAS parliament and to ensure that it address the current realities of the people.
“This session, otherwise known as the “Budget Session”, provides the opportunity, in accordance with provisions of the Supplementary Act, for Parliament is expected to ensure that the estimates are directed towards programs that address the needs of the people.
“Here, I make specific reference to Article 17.2a, which states that “after the consideration of the budget by the Administration and Finance Committee (AFC), the report of the AFC on the budget shall be presented to Parliament during the Parliamentary Budget Session.” In fulfillment of this statutory responsibility, we are expected to render opinion, including where necessary, proposals for the amendment to the draft community budget”.