By John Okeke
As the Delocalized Meeting of the Joint Committee on Communications and Information Technology, Education , Science and Technology, Labour , Employment , Youth, Sports and Culture , continued in their deliberations in Conakry to move the region to a prosperous one , the lawmakers have raised important issues to actualize their goals ranging from ease of doing business by the youths in the region, eradication of language barriers among member countries amongst other.
Speakers after speaker expressed their concerns in the meeting to further foster the regional integration.
Speaking at the meeting , Hon. Biodun Olujimi , lawmaker from Nigeria said ,” ECOWAS needs to encourage young people , youths , women by giving them tax reliefs to ensure they achieve their aspirations thereby adding value to the efforts of the Parliament .
She said ECOWAS member states must consciously eradicate issues of mutual distrust among community citizens by removing language barriers adding that it will go along way to integrating the region in terms of employment, exchanges and the likes.
The lawmaker advocated the need for the enhancement of powers of ECOWAS Parliament to enforce the decisions reached on the member states.
“One of the issues is this language and communication barrier . The Parliament should legislate on it and ensure that all the member states act on them . All the Francophone states must make English and Portuguese compulsory and all the Anglophone states must make Portuguese and French compulsory so that this mutual distrust and the inability to really engage each other as entrepreneurs and to ensure that SMEs works. At least eradicate it if we understand each other you can come in Nigeria and you that I can also speak French. Then when you are doing business with me there won’t be distrust but I come into Guinea I can’t speak French and that every time am feeling displaced, if I come in to work here it can take me some times to believe in the system. We don’t need that . Africans does not need that time , africa needs to be up and doing so that we can move on with the world.
She continued, ” I think we need to enhance the powers of ECOWAS Parliament so that they can legislate on certain things and those things will be mandatory for member states to act upon . And that is when we can get our youths out of this problems. If you bring youths of Guinea to Nigeria to come and work number one they won’t get jobs because no one will understand them because they speak in French and everybody will just work away from them . But imagine if they person you are visiting can speak French , English, Portuguese and say ok what did you read ? And say ok you can work here , you don’t need to translate their degrees any longer , you can now know ooh you study this and it is equivalent to Nigeria and that is the way to go along with it .
“In this hall we have many Francophone states and there is also need for us to match them . We must match them if we can eradicate language barrier our youths will be able to get jobs to be able to manage themselves within the system . And if labour can move freely then we will be close to getting it right,” she said.
Hon . Sen Foster Ogola , from Nigeria , said, ” the other aspect is language barrier . The language barrier is there that is if you have a teacher in Nigeria he or she cannot teach in Benin Republic, Niger and in Cameroon because they are all neighbors but my study in education has no pairing in their language and so cannot even it you have a teaching knowledge. When I become a bilingual secretary or teacher or multi-lingual teacher the entire west Africa region is open to me . That is what we are talking about . Until you travel to a country other than English you will not know that your knowledge in education under the English language has no meaning to them .”
“Like we are in Conakry now for the first time and only those who have manage to understand English can communicate with us. The drivers cannot . The marketing men cannot . Yesterday I was in the market and we couldn’t communicate. We have a driver and we could not communicate. We know what we want but they can’t do anything for us. We have to come and tell another person to come and tell him to take us here and there. Then anywhere we miss our way or we did not get what we want we gave to look for an interpreter,” he said.
“The issues of language is a foundation to issues we are raising here regarding employment of our youths,” he added.
The Hon Halidou Nassirou from Niger said,” as far as am concerned our authorities must respect our youth in the region to ensure they get a better jobs.”
Also speaking on the youth sports in the ECOWAS region , the Hon . Fatoumatta Njai , 1st Rapporteur on ICT Committee from Gambia called on the ECOWAS Centre for Youth and Sports to increase the numbers of women participation in their activities.
” We want you to involve more women in the Centre’s sports activities . We discover that the Centre engaged more male than the women . We have good policies don’t implement them in our various countries.
The Chairman, Employment, Labour, Youth , Culture and Sports , Hon. Alpha Souleymane Bah Fischer from Guinea lamented that the youth sports has been abandoned in the ECOWAS region .
“Youth sports has been abandoned in our countries. Go to schools in the villages you will see for yourself. In those days sports are taught in schools . Sports and culture have been abandoned. We need to know that sports is an integrating factor.”
In addition, the Director, ECOWAS Centre for Youth and Sports , Francis Chuks Njoaguani, who made a presentation on Theme ” Youth Employment: Effective Private Sector Engagement ” , said ,” youth employment is the responsibility of the ECOWAS member countries.
He added that there is need have reforms so as to create job opportunities for the teeming youths in the region.