The Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on the 15th of November 2018, in Abuja, Nigeria began the second ordinary session of its fourth legislature.
During the month-long session, the regional Parliamentarians will among others, consider and adopt the 2019 programme of activities of the community Parliament.
Declaring the session open, the Speaker, Moustapha Cisse Lo noted that the agenda before the on-going session calls mainly for the consideration of the Community Budget in accordance with Articles 7 and 17 of the Supplementary Act relating to the enhancement of the powers of the ECOWAS Parliament.
He stressed that other matters to be considered include the speech of the President of the ECOWAS Commission on the State of the Community, country reports, referrals from the ECOWAS Commission on the Community texts, reports of the fact-finding and parliamentary oversight missions as well as Workshops and interactive sessions with the technical and financial partners.
The Speaker ruminated through two main “intersession activities” of Parliament and highlighted in this regard, the last two delocalised meetings of the year 2018, the first of which successively held in Guinea Bissau and The Gambia respectively.
The second which had to do with the 2018 Second Extraordinary Session that took place in September 2018, in Cote d’Ivoire enabled the adoption and incorporation of the budget of Parliament into the general budget of the Community, in accordance with our Supplementary Act.
The Speaker further reported that three parliamentary oversight missions were simultaneously sent, from 4 to 8 October, to the institutions and agencies responsible for the implementation of the Community policies and programmes in Senegal, Burkina Faso as well as Benin, Togo, Ghana.
Similarly, he disclosed that two parliamentary fact-finding missions were undertaken to Liberia and Agadez in the Republic of Niger during the year under reference among the many other exertions of the body of parliamentarians.
He recalled that the meetings held were innovative and “relevant diplomatic initiatives, which attests to the continued commitment of the ECOWAS Parliament to the integration and prosperity of Africa, as well as the peace and unity of the continent”
On the imminence (first quarter of 2019) of general elections in Nigeria and Senegal Speaker Lo noted, among others, that the role of Parliament in monitoring these elections will be crucial in strengthening democracy and establishing the credibility of the elections.
Goodwill messages for the parliamentary session were led by that of the President of the ECOWAS Commission Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, represented at the event by the ECOWAS Commission’s Commissioner for Infrastructure Mr. Pathe Gueye who expressed solidarity with the parliamentarians while wishing them fruitful deliberations.
On his part, the president of the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice Judge Asante Amoako Edward who was represented by the Vice President of the Court Juge Gberi-Be Ouattara, noted that in sharing the ECOWAS objectives of economic and social integration which are a concern for the Parliament, ECOWAS Court of Justice is convinced that it can and must bring its contribution to achieving same.
He said the Court, commits itself to “contribute its stone to the construction of the community building, by rendering a justice which soothes, reassures and establishes the balance”.
The Speaker of the National Assembly of Niger Mr. Ousseini Tinni disclosed that from the beginning of ECOWAS, his compatriots have “shared the ideal of peace, progress and unity of (General Yakubu) Gowon and (General Gnassingbe) Eyadema.
He stressed: “We must all continue to carry the torch of a community that knows how to overcome borders and particularisms, economic disparities and chauvinism, to build a viable economic whole, beyond any narrow sovereignty, to give our countries a chance to take off!”
Other guests in attendance included Speaker of the House of Representatives of Liberia, Mr Bhofal Chambers, envoys accredited to Nigeria and ECOWAS as well as representatives of the International and Inter-African Organisations. The session is expected to feature among others, an activity under the aegis of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) with the theme- Strengthening mobilisation against child trafficking and labour: Parliament’s efforts.
This is being carried out in collaboration with the International Labour Office (ILO) with the support of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).