By John Okeke
Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Sidie Mohammed Tunis has said the Parliament is intensifying efforts to ensure governments of Member States makes the COVID-19 vaccines available to all their citizens.
He made this known during the commemoration of the first anniversary of the Fifth Legislature of the ECOWAS Parliament on Tuesday in Abuja.
He said the health of the people of the Community is more important to the ECOWAS Parliament than any projects, hence the need for governments to prioritize vaccination for citizens irrespective of their status.
Tunis said the fifth legislature of the Parliament was inaugurated in the wake of the global challenge, the COVID-19 pandemic and the availability of vaccines is a sigh of relief.
“In the light of the fight against COVID-19, it gives a sigh of relief to note that governments and Health Institutions within the sub-region have started procuring and acquiring vaccines
“This is a welcome development and as a Parliament we will continue to push and ensure that vaccines are made available t0o every citizen of the sub region.
“However, let me encourage everyone to keep all measures to keep us safe from contracting COVID -19 by observing all COVID-19 preventive measures.
“The ECOWAS Parliament is advocating for governments to prioritize vaccines for everyone, health of the citizens are more Important than any other projects.
”The vaccines should be available to everyone irrespective of who you are, either rich or poor”, Tunis said.
Tunis noted that although the fifth legislature was inaugurated amid the COVID-19 crises and one year after, great achievements have been recorded in policy advocacy and interventions in Member States.
The speaker said that after the opening of the borders in 2020, the Parliament had three delocalized meetings in three different countries in the sub-region which yielded positive results.
“The opening of the borders motivated us to swing into action. We quickly rose to the occasion and organized three joint committee meetings in three different countries of the sub-region.
“It is worthy of mentioning that these meetings continue to yield positive results on member states.
“It is gratifying to report that some governments and National Assemblies in the sub-region have started implementing and adjusting policies on issues such as Cyber Security, African Continental Free Trade Area.
“Communications and education, economic policies and so much more. These developments were a direct outcome of our joint committee meetings.
“Arising from this meeting in December 2020 in Lagos, the report of the ad-hoc committee on direct Universal Suffrage recommends that parliaments ensure the elections of Members by Direct Universal Suffrage before the end of the fifth legislation March 2024.
“Since inauguration, Members of parliaments and staff have joined in strengthening election observation missions to five Member States; Guinea, Burkina Faso, Cotde d’Ivoire, Mali and Niger”, Tunis said.
Hon. Kaboubie Sakande Benao representing Burkina Faso commended the strides made so far by the fifth legislature despite the pandemic which restricted a lot of activities.
Benao commended Tunis for his leadership as she called for more collaboration of the ECOWAS Parliament with National Parliaments
She said the fifth legislature was headed in the right direction, commending the speaker for pushing for the implementation of the Direct Universal Suffrage.
She however called for a roadmap to guide the Parliamentarians in achieving the implementation of the Direct Universal Suffrage before the end of their tenure in 2021.