By John Okeke
As the regional parliamentarians ended their 2021 first ordinary session yesterday in Abuja , Speaker of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament , Mohammed Tunis has called on Members of the Community to see the ‘Community’s integration and development as a collective task that must continue to be improved upon by all stakeholders, understand that Community Levy is a vital instrument to ensure that Community Institutions function and serve the interests of the people and, step up the task at hand towards attaining full parliamentary status in the direct election of members to the ECOWAS Parliament.’
Hon. Dr. Tunis, made these comments as closing remarks at the 2021 First Ordinary Session of the Community Parliament, held in Abuja, Federal Republic of Nigeria – 27 May – 12 June, 2021.
He began by expressing gratitude to God Almighty and colleagues for the completion of the 2021 First Ordinary Session, held at the seat of Parliament in Abuja, Nigeria, for the first time since the Inauguration of the Fifth Legislature.
“This is a very significant gain that should not be underemphasized, given the circumstances under which we find ourselves.
This Session was convened for the purpose of conducting the business of Parliament and to fulfil our obligations as required by the Supplementary Act.
The presence of all Honorable Members and our Distinguished Guests, despite the hurdles of Covid-19, is indicative of the dedication that we have towards the advancement of our Community. I, therefore, congratulate all of us for completing this important assignment,” Hon. Dr. Tunis said.
The seventeen days Session was able to adopt the Report of the 2021 First Extraordinary Session, Reports of Standing, Joint and Ad Hoc Committees, for which the ECOWAS Speaker said he was proud of the work done by Members of Parliament, especially in the technical discussions leading to the conclusion of the Parliament’s advisory opinion.
On the issue of the Community’s integration and development, the ECOWAS Speaker expressed deepest appreciation to His Excellency, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President Republic of Ghana and current Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, for honoring with his presence the opening of the May 2021 First Ordinary Session..
“Mr. President’s commitment to the ECOWAS Parliament and regional integration demonstrates the shared drive for a prosperous West Africa and we are grateful for his leadership at this time,” Hon. Dr. Tunis said.
He also expressed profound gratitude to Her Excellency Chief Dr. Jewel Howard Taylor, Vice President of the Republic of Liberia, for her presence not only at the opening ceremony, but at the ECOFEPA organized forum.
“Madam Vice President demonstrated her stern commitment to women empowerment not only in words, but deeds. We are grateful to her,” the ECOWAS Speaker said, adding that the success of the occasion could not have also been completed without the presence of His Lordship the President of the ECOWAS Court of Justice, the Distinguished President of the Nigerian Senate, the Honorable Speaker of the National Assembly of Niger, and all other dignitaries who honored their invitation.
He said: ” We thank them for the enormous support accorded the ECOWAS Parliament.”
The Community Parliament Speaker prasied the role of the President of the ECOWAS Commision, noting that, “I also wish to commend the President of the ECOWAS Commission, His Excellency, Dr. Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, for presenting the State of our Community address, which adequately took stock of our programmes and projects.
Awareness of our region’s potentials and challenges are essential in achieving a peaceful, productive, and stable sub-region. With this in mind, it will be pertinent to tap into the talent that exists within us to create an ideal ECOWAS region.
The Community’s integration and development is indeed a collective task that must continue to be improved upon by all stakeholders. Our subregion must continue to soar high until we attain the desired height.
” The issue of Member States collecting and paying Community Levy to the Community has been topical on the agenda of the Community Parliament’s business, Hon. Dr. Tunis said: ‘”As Members of Parliament, our major responsibility is to represent the people and work towards the transformation of our Community into a self-sufficient, sustainable, prosperous, and peaceful sub region.
The Community Levy is a vital instrument to ensure that our Community Institutions can function and serve the interests of our people. We need to take back control of our lives and the future of our region and we will not be able to do so without adequate funds for the Community. Institutions that withstand the test of time are those that deliver quality service. This quality cannot be compromised; Member States need to ensure that ECOWAS maintains its quality, through building strong and lasting Institutions.
So, I implore you all to go back to your respective countries and utilize your mandates and influence to ensure that each Member States fulfills her commitments to our people. ” Direct Election of Members of the Community Parliament has also maintained a place in the deliebrations of the Community Parliament.
Hon. Dr. Tunis said the first step towards attaining full parliamentary status is the direct election of members to the ECOWAS Parliament. ” This also means that we must step up the task at hand. Here I wish to recall that Article 18/1a of the Supplementary Act provides that “Representatives shall be elected by direct universal suffrage by the citizens of Member States”.
It will be a continuous struggle, but we must rise to the occasion; giving our best each day will accumulate to a body of work which will subsequently add up to our desired legacy. Great nations thrive on hard work, innovative ideas, and good investments,” the ECOWAS Parliament Speaker said. However, participants are expected to embark on sightseeing among other activities to climax the session.