By Favour Nnabugwu
The Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament Y Dr. Sidie Mohamed Tunis has expressed the need of finding the best possible ways of ensuring peaceful electoral process in Nigeria, Liberia and Sierra Leone.in 2023
He made the call in Abuja at the commencement of the First Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament in 2022.
Hon. Tunis: “May I remind us that next year will be very pivotal for democracy across the region? With elections scheduled to hold in three Member States; the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Liberia and Sierra Leone, our role in ensuring that the democratic processes are conducted in a way that guarantees the best possible outcomes cannot be overemphasized.
“In coordination with the ECOWAS Commission, we must begin our engagements long before polling day to ensure successes in all three Member States.”
He also said, despite the gains made by the ECOWAS states, terrorism, kidnapping, and banditry continue to cause major setbacks for security in the region. In Burkina Faso, Mali and the Federal Republic of Nigeria the situation has worsened.
“We condemn the recent attack on the Kaduna International Airport and the Abuja-Kaduna train that led to the loss of innocent lives and injuring too many others; the gruesome attack at St. Francis Catholic Church in Ondo State that led to the killing of many, and many others unfortunate deaths across the region,” he lamented
He further stressed the need for regional cooperation and integration which he said is beneficial to the survival of the ECOWAS Community.
To leverage the vast benefits of multilateralism and parliamentary diplomacy, I represented the Parliament at several regional meetings including the Parliamentary Summit on Regional and Provincial Unions of Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean and the 144th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).
“These engagements demonstrated our full commitment to Inter-Parliamentary Cooperation and support our determination to bring much-needed visibility to this Parliament.”
On the Supply of vaccines to Africa, especially COVID-19, he said the continent still has a proportionately low number of fully vaccinated individuals against COVID-19. “Challenges ranging from the supply and delivery of vaccines to the shortage of medical staff, vaccine hesitancy and low health systems capacity, impede the Continent’s ability to tackle not only the current health crisis but future ones as well.”
One of the key highlights of this First Ordinary Session was the presentation of the State of the Community report by the President of the ECOWAS Commission, His Excellency, Jean Claude Kassi Brou.
It was done in accordance with Article 32 of the Supplementary Act on the Enhancement of the Powers of Parliament, which stipulates that: “At each ordinary session of the ECOWAS Parliament, the President of the Commission shall present a general report on the state of implementation of the Community’s work program”.
The presentation by the President of the Commission provides an opportunity for Members of Parliament, as representatives of the people, to track and oversight the implementation of community programs.
Also on the agenda of the session are Parliamentary workshops where public, private and the organized Civil Society are expected to share their concerns and challenges, as well as present and explain to regional Members of Parliament, their missions, and achievements.
The ECOWAS Parliament which is a Representative Assembly of the peoples of the Community has a statutory and guaranteed minimum of (5) seats for each of the 15 Member States, while the remaining forty seats are distributed in proportion to the population of each country.
Consequently, Nigeria has 35 of the 115 seats, followed by Ghana with eight seats. Others are Côte d’Ivoire seven Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali, Niger, and Senegal with six seats each. The other Member States namely, Benin, Cape Verde, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Togo have five seats each.