By John Okeke
As the ECOWAS Parliament celebrates the 20th anniversary since it commenced plenary in year 2000, Speaker of parliament, Hon. Sidie Mohamed Tunis has paid glowing tribute to former Speakers of the sub-regional body for their contributions to growing the parliament.
Tunis who spoke at a joint delocalized meeting of parliament holding in Lome, Togo, described the former speakers as famous West Africans whose contributions had let ECOWAS to the height it had attained.
Delivering an address as part of the opening of the meeting of the Joint Committees on: Education, Science and Technology -Telecommunication and Information Technology and the committee on Political Affairs, Peace, Security, as well as Committee on Infrastructure, Tunis added that 20 years was an important milestone.
“Yet again, I am delighted to announce that the ECOWAS Parliament has today, attained the age of twenty (20), since its establishment in Bamako in 2000.
“Let me use this occasion to congratulate all Members of the ECOWAS Parliament from 2000 to date, including, unfortunately the deceased.
“Let me also congratulate my predecessors in office, notably: His Excellency Ali Nouhoum Diallo – 1st Legislature, His Excellency Mahamane Ousmane- 2nd Legislature, His Excellency Ike Ekweremadu- 3rd Legislature, and His Excellency Moustapha Cisse Lo- 4th Legislature.
“These famous sons of West Africa, supported by other Members, contributed immensely towards making the ECOWAS Parliament what it is today. Certainly, posterity will reward your efforts and the sacrifices you made.
“I also wish to congratulate the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State, Council of Ministers and the successive Presidents of the ECOWAS Commission for the collaboration and support.
“Like I said earlier, within the course of next year, we intend to celebrate in a bigger way, showcasing our activities and past achievements for the appreciation of stakeholders,” he said.
The joint committee meeting had its theme “ECOWAS in the era of COVID-19 and beyond: focusing on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to promote distance education and training in ECOWAS Member States”.
Tunis who presides over the 5th Legislature of parliament, recalled that the first legislature of parliament was confronted with the major challenge of how best to make the Institution known across the sub-region.
He said that as a recent, in 2003, the leadership of parliament introduced the idea of holding Committee meetings outside the headquarters, with Togo being the first country to host such delocalized meeting.
He therefore added that it was a worthy coincidence that the anniversary celebration was coinciding with its delocalized meeting in Lome, especially considering the immense contribution of Togo to regional integration.
“This is by no means an important milestone and due to the importance of Togo to our integration process, the occasion is happening, by coincidence, not by design, in Lomé.
“Initially, our plan was to make it a big event next month in Abuja. Unfortunately, we would not be holding a Session until January 2021.
“We shall, therefore, cut the anniversary cake here in Lome and plan a series of other events spanning into the whole of next year.
“The above examples, as well as the coincidence of our anniversary happening in Lome, underscore the importance of this country in the scheme of things in the sub-region.
“We would, therefore, continue to thank the Government and the good people of Togo for their positive approach towards strengthening regional integration and cooperation,” he said.