By John Okeke
The ECOWAS Parliamentarians have promised to work towards peaceful co existence, more integration in ECOWAS Region even as they have vowed to break barriers hindering free movement of people within the region.
Speaker of the Fifth Parliament, His Excellency Sidie Mohamed Tunis, in his inaugural address at an elaborate ceremony in the Niamey, the Capital of Niger, pledged to work diligently with the Authority of Heads of State to promote peace in the sub-region.
Tunis is the Leader of Government Business representing the ruling Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) in the Sierra Leone House of Parliament.
In his words,” “Mindful of Article 2 of the ECOWAS Protocol relating to the Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Mmanagement, Resolution, Peacekeeping and Security adopted in Lomé on 10th December 1999, we shall diligently work with the Authority of Heads of State and Government and Council of Ministers to ensure that our sub-region is safe, secure and prosperous,” He recounted that over the past two decades, ECOWAS, working with other global institutions, have done a lot to keep the peace of the region.
The new Speaker promised to assist the ECOWAS Commission in its integrated economic activities by providing the much-needed oversight in the areas of industry, transport, telecommunications, energy, agriculture, natural resources, commerce, youth empowerment and monetary and financial issues. Hon Tunis’ ascendancy marks the first time that Sierra Leone is occupying the position of Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament since its establishment in 2002. He is expected to serve until 2024, when Togo will be next in line to succeed Sierra Leone.
Honourable Awaji Abiante, MP from Nigeria says it is time to break all those invisible walls we created ourselves thereby giving room to a vibrant community while reacting to journalists question on what should be done now to see that we avoid trade wars and disputes among member countries.
In his words, “We build these invisible barriers and we also have to break the barriers, and breaking the barriers has to be a win-win situation for all of us. In life there is always competition and is always what makes life meaningful. Competition has to be done within the ambit of the law, and law itself to me is a living thing. That is why law will grow, laws will be weaken over time, laws may be sick and need surgery, will need to amend those laws to suit present challenges. If there are legal barriers the parliament as a community will look at it and advise members states on how best to tailor such in order to achieve a more integration in west Africa “
Speaking in the same vein Adjaratou Fadiga Traore , leader of the delegation of Cote D’ivoire said, “the more important thing in our community is for our to see how the ECOWAS Community can work together especially on the free movement between each country, on goods and service and how the connection within each country will work easily and nicely for the interest of ECOWAS”. She hinted that the inaugural meeting was mainly to set up rules that will guide the operations of the fifth parliament for the next four years.
Magassy Muhamed , member of the Parliament from The Gambia said the new MPs sworn in will serve the community in the interest of the community for the next four years .
According to him, “We hope that given this responsibility base on hope and trust bestowed upon us we will live up to expectation, because you know the expectation on the ECOWAS community is huge but we will try to do the best at the maximum of our capacity. Among the biggest challenges of the 4th Legislature is the issue of free movement of goods and service and single currency, the ECO currency, we will try our before the end of this term to see that those things are things of the past. So we have that complete courage”