February 1, 2023

ECOWAS parliament charges Nigeria on peaceful, transparent elections

File image of ECOWAS parliament.

By Victoria Ojeme 

Bissau: The Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has urged the Nigerian government and the citizens to exemplify a model of transparent and peaceful elections in this month’s Presidential and National Assembly Elections.

The Speaker of the ECOWAS parliament, Sidie Mohammed Tunis, speaking at the closing of the fifth Legislature of ECOWAS Parliament Extraordinary session in Guinea Bissau urged the country to uphold the spirit and tenets of sportsmanship, transparency, and accountability in the polls.

He said “Permit me to reiterate my earlier calls on our brothers and sisters in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and other Member States who are going into major elections this year, to uphold the spirit and tenets of sportsmanship, transparency, and accountability.

“Let us bear in mind that election is not a do or die affair, rather it provides a golden opportunity for our citizens to cast their votes to elect credible leaders of their choice and not disrupt the electoral processes through violence and destruction of lives and properties.

I appeal to all the citizens of these countries to uphold the principles of democracy and respect opposing opinions. Let´s be guided that the days of violence and wanton destruction of lives and properties after the declaration of the election results, will no longer be tolerated and the wish of the majority must prevail. In addition, any candidates who feel otherwise should seek redress in the court of law and follow due process.

“I urge all stakeholders in charge of organizing and conducting elections, especially Heads of Electoral Commissions, Security Agencies and Non-State Actors to ensure that the outcome of the elections is rooted in transparency and social justice.”

Tunis also urged everyone to put hands on deck to ensure that West Africa moves in the direction of progress. “I want to task and equally encourage all and sundry to remain focused and resilient towards our common goal of ensuring that our region prospers. 

Remember that our destinies are in our hands, and we can determine the means to arrive at our desired success. I am hopeful that at the end of this year, we will be on the positive and bright side of life,” he added.

The Speaker said the parliamentary session enabled them to hold qualitative discussions and adopt workable conclusions on pressing issues affecting the people in the region. “It is therefore hoped that the recommendations made during this Session will form the basis for policy formulations, implementations and produce outcomes needed to transform the standard of living of our people.

 The year 2023 presents a huge opportunity for us to re-evaluate issues militating against the shared developments of our Member States.”

Resolutions from the ECOWAS Parliamentary seminar were also adopted, with recommendations for ECOWAS Member States to intensify efforts to meet the related convergence criteria stipulated between 2022 and 2026, in order to be adequately prepared for the launch of the single currency threshold program by 2027.

In continuation, Hon Kebba Barrow from Gambia who read the recommendations further called for reinforcement of the political will and Commitment towards the successful implementation of the ECOWAS Monetary Cooperation Program; improvement of regional transport and communication and other infrastructure projects,

 such as power projects; development of higher education and training institutions and programs, particularly science and technology education; improved information and Communications Technologies and Content; promotion of Regional Capital Markets Development; and the development of required financial markets infrastructures, establishment of prudential regulations across Member States.

The ECOWAS Member States were also encouraged to harmonize the regional settlement and clearing system and credit rating standards, as well as harmonize the activities in the regional capital markets; reduce national financial regulations, as a result of harmonized regional financial policy enhances transparency and a positive shift in international markets’ assessment of an economy and may act as a disciplinary device as well.

To the ECOWAS Commission, the seminar participants recommended the organization of investment for a to mobilize the funds required; and in consonance with WAMA, support capacity building programs for Member States and other relevant Stakeholders, such as the ECOWAS Parliament on every topic towards the realization of the single currency agenda; Undertake joint Sensitization missions with WAMA and ECOWAS Parliament to banks, Private Sector Operators, and the Political Authorities, on the necessity and importance of implementing the ECOWAS Payments and Settlement System (EPSS) with a plan to integrate it with the PAPSS. 

Also enjoined by the seminar participants were recommendations for Members of Parliament to review and endorse international Agreements affecting the Community Institutions (Non-Mandatory Referral); review and give Assent to ALL Community Acts relating to Economic and Monetary Integration including Trade, Customs, Free Movement of Persons, Goods and Services and Monetary Cooperation (Mandatory Referral); exercise Parliamentary oversight over activities of Programs implementing Institutions /Bodies of the Community and adopt appropriate Resolutions (including interpellations etc.); 

Collaborate with the Council of Ministers and ECOWAS Commission to propose Model and Uniform Laws to the Community that would facilitate the establishment of a single currency and central bank; Propose for the amendment of the sections of the Revised Treaty that have an impact on the monetary union arrangements; Undertake high level Missions to Member States to advocate on specific issues relating to the implementation of EPSS; and ensure all duties and responsibilities relating to EPSS are being fulfilled through Parliamentary Sessions or Committee meetings.