Former ECOWAS president passes on at 65

Alain Marcel de Souza, the former president of the ECOWAS Commission, died on Tuesday in Paris after suffering a heart attack.

His death has also been confirmed by a staff of the ECOWAS Commission in Abuja. He died at 65.

De Souza the immediate past president of ECOWAS was a banker and Minister of Economic Development. He had also embarked on politics and had been a presidential candidate in 2016.

The 48th Ordinary Session of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government held on 17 December 2015 in Abuja, Nigeria allocated the post of President of the regional organisation’s Commission to Benin for the period covering March 2016 to February 2018.

Marcel A. de Souza was appointed by Benin to occupy this position, thus taking over from Kadré Désiré Ouédraogo. He took over the organisation on 8 April 2016.

Born on 30 October 1953 at Pobè in Benin, Marcel A. de Souza holds a Master’s Degree in Economics from the University of Dakar as well as a specialised Master’s Degree in Management and Banking at the West African Training Centre for Banking Studies (COFEB).

 He completed his training at the prestigious International Monetary Fund (IMF) Institute in Washington, United States. Prior to that, Mr. de Souza obtained two High School Leaving Certificates in his native country: the first, with major in Mathematics and the second, majoring in Biology. He later imparted this valuable knowledge to students of Collège Sacré-Cœur (Canadian High School) of Dakar from 1976 to 1978.

He held several positions including that of Internal Controller at BCEAO Head Office in Cotonou, BCEAO National Director for Benin, and thereafter Director of Administration at the headquarters of the same financial institution in Dakar.

In Benin, he was Member of Parliament at the National Assembly, Head of Department of Economic and Financial Affairs in the Office of the President, and subsequently Special Adviser to the President on Monetary and Banking Affairs.

He served as Minister for Development, Economic Analysis and Forecast from May 2011 to June 2015. In that capacity, he was Benin’s Governor to the African Development Bank (AfDB), Islamic Development Bank (IDB), ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID) and member of the Council of Ministers of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA).

On the political front, Marcel A. de Souza has been the Chairman of Benin Republican Front (FRB) since 2009, and unsuccessful candidate in the March 2016 presidential election.




ECOWAS Commission Solicits the Entrenchment of Democratic Governance in…

The ECOWAS Commission is soliciting the entrenchment of democratic governance in West Africa in order to have the right atmosphere for stability and the economic development of the region.

At the start of a two-Day regional conference on electoral security in ECOWAS Member States on the 30th of July 2019 in Abuja, Nigeria, attention was called to the several challenges of the electoral process which necessitate appropriate action by stakeholders in order for democracy and good governance to flourish.

Speaking on behalf of the ECOWAS Commission’s Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security Gen Francis Behanzin as well as the Director, Political Affairs, the Head, Mediation Facilitation Division Mr. Ebenezer Asiedu maintained that the regularity with which elections are held in the region has not excused it from being marred by violence.

Warning of an emerging threat to democratic governance, he said the observed flawed electoral processes have in some cases been characterized by manipulation and flagrant disregard of electoral laws to the point of rejection of the outcome of elections, thereby contributing to undermining the development and consolidation of the desired democratic culture.

“Unfortunately, the conduct of elections in Member States, and by extension in the region, which constitute part of our democratic governance practices, often comes with a general sense of fear, uneasiness and panic, with the perception of high risks of violence” He added.

It was for this reason, he intoned, that the regional conference had been organized to serve as an avenue for collaborative learning on regional and international best practices, as well as to assess past incidents and efforts at mitigation and prevention, while analysing intra-national and regional patterns of violence during all phases of the electoral cycle.

The gathering of stakeholders will also create a platform to collect and disseminate such best practices across the region as a resource tool to guide development practitioners, policy and decisions-makers in promoting peaceful and democratic elections.

In a goodwill statement, the chief of Party of the Reacting to Early Warning and Response Data in West Africa (REWARD) of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Mr. Alimou Diallo stated that the efforts which culminated in the convergence of the stakeholders is “a demonstration of a growing commitment to improve democratic culture and peaceful elections in the region”

He stressed that lessons learned in electoral administration, management and security are meant to help reduce tensions and violence during electoral periods, even though West Africa has witnessed a great deal of challenges related to its democratization processes. The region, he maintained, has also “overcome many hurdles and made significant strides since ECOWAS adopted Multi-party democracy as the only source of political legitimacy in 1991 with the Declaration of the ECOWAS Political Principles”.

The conference seeks to build on regional and international electoral violence prevention and electoral assistance programs that have gained prominence since the end of the Cold War era. This according to the USAID REWARD chief of Party, is also strengthening the determination and solid beliefs in the values of tolerance, mutual respect, unity in diversity, and coexistence among all communities in the region.

He charged participants at the conference to appropriately address the daunting challenges in the region exacerbated by terrorism and violent extremists and seek to resolve any differences with the potential to derail the hard-earned democratic credence of West Africa.

The representative Nigeria’s Independent National electoral Commission (INEC) Mr. Ifeanyichucku Agoha extolled the collaborative efforts of ECOWAS and INEC while expressing the hope that other regional organizations on the continent will also benefit from the rich discussions.

The Executive Director of the West African Network for Peace-building (WANEP) Dr. Chuckwuemeka Eze raised pertinent questions bordering on the nature of security in the region, the burden of colonial legacy and the important need of making ECOWAS Member States thrive peacefully by priming themselves to respond to their genuine needs.

The Vice Chairperson of the Commission Electorale Nationale Autonome (CENA) of the Republic of Benin Mrs. Genevieve Boco Nadjo as well as the former chair of the ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions, General Sangare Siaka (Mali) gave brief situation reports in their countries and expressed the hope that the conference will help come up with strategies to curb electoral manipulations and violence among others.

A lead presentation was made by the senior advisor, electoral education and integrity of the Creative Associates International dwelling on the definition of relevant concepts as well as security, political, socio-economic and contextual factors which are usually at play during the electoral processes.

Elections are scheduled to hold in no fewer than 10 West Africa countries between 2019 and 2020. Participating stakeholders at the conference were drawn from ECONEC, Regional Electoral Management Bodies (EMB), Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Civil Society Representatives, among others.




Chiefs of Naval of Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia,…

The Chiefs of Naval staff of Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Sierra Leone as well as the Chief of Coast Guard of Liberia and the high Commander of the National Gendarmerie of Burkina Faso have signed a Memorandum of understanding (MoU) for joint maritime operations in the ECOWAS maritime zone, on the 25th of July 2019, in Accra, Ghana.

The MoU signing ceremony which was witnessed by the ECOWAS Commission’s Commissioner for Political Affairs Peace and Security (PAPS) Gen Francis Behanzin, will provide among others, an important response to threats to maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea.

Majorly, the Heads of Navies, Coast Guard and Gendarmerie endorsed the Multilateral Agreement which established the Maritime Zone F and the Protocol which established the Multinational Maritime Coordination Centre (MMCC) also for Zone F, which was signed on the 31st of July 2018 in Lomé, Togo by the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS.

The signed MoU entails the needed collaboration, coordination and the pooling of resources for collective security and safety of Zone F Maritime Domain to enhance the work of the existing MMCC as part of measures to galvanize the cumulative strengths of the member states through joint and combined maritime operations against criminality.

The initiatives of the states which is in aid of the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs), is critical to the emergence and sustainability of their “Blue Economy”, which covers different sectors including fisheries, tourism, transport, trade, offshore exploitation.

The communique released at the end of the meeting further said that Heads of Navies, Coast Guard, Gendarmerie reaffirmed their commitment to the Yaoundé Process and their commitments relating to the prevention and repression of acts of piracy, armed robbery against ships and illicit maritime activities in West and Central Africa.

They also upheld their commitment to the ECOWAS Integrated Maritime Strategy (EIMS as part of measures to secure the ECOWAS maritime space and sections which provides for the establishment of Maritime Zones E, F and G as well as all the adopted Acts on maritime security.

Before rising, the Heads of Navies, Coast Guard, Gendarmerie expressed their gratitude to the ECOWAS Commission, the United Nations office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC), United Kingdom Government, Centre for Maritime laws Africa (CEMLAWS) among others for their support for the maritime security processes.

Gen Behanzin addressing participants and parties to the meeting

ECOWAS Heads of States in conjunction with the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and Gulf of Guinea Commission (GGC) had adopted the Yaoundé Code of Conduct and MoU at their summit in June 2013 in Yaoundé, Cameroon which also established a new Inter-Regional Architecture composed of five interconnected multi-national maritime Centres and 17 national maritime Operations Centres.

The Accra gathering was the first meeting by the chiefs of naval staff, the chiefs of coast guard and the chiefs of staff of ECOWAS national gendarmerie states in the maritime Zone F.

The meeting was also attended by Ambassadors of the concerned countries and partners as well as Directors and representatives of relevant agencies and institutions.





Nigeria INEC chairman quits as ECONEC President

The ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions on August 7,2019  elected the Chairman of Cape Verde Electoral Commission, Dr Maria do Rosario Lopes Pereira Goncalves as its president.

With this development, the new President, who was former treasurer, has taken over ECONEC leadership from the chairman of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof Mahmood Yakubu.

Other members of the Steering Committee are 1st Vice President, Newton Ahmed Barry of Bourkinafso; 2nd Vice President, Momarr Alieu Njai of The Gambia; Treasurer, Amadou Ba from Mali and Deputy Treasurer, Jean Mensa who is chairman of the Electoral Commission of Ghana.

Delivering her speech, Pereira Goncalves expressed appreciation to her colleagues for selecting her.

She also expressed the commitment of her team to fulfil the engagement and responsibilities of ECONEC and consolidate on the work of past presidents of ECONEC.

Earlier, Yakubu said that member states would continue to assist themselves to conduct credible elections in the West African sub-region.

He said that the purpose of electoral commissions of ECOWAS member countries coming together was with a view to helping one another to entrench credible elections through peer review and support.

This, according to the INEC chairman, was due to their concern about the high cost of elections in the sub-region and the need to help one another.

He assured that member states had the ability to work together and get support from one another.

Yakubu stated that in West African sub-region, all the countries were democratic countries conducting periodic elections.

“We will continue to help each other in the subregion subject to the availability of resources, but we can see that that kind of relationship has helped us. We shouldn’t just wait until governments act. There are things that we can do as a little commission to support one another and to consolidate our democracies in this subregion”, Yakubu said.





EU counsels ECOWAS on dangers of delayed electoral reforms

Head of the European Union (EU) Delegation to Nigeria and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Ketil Karlsen, has alerted the sub-region to the dangers of postponing political reforms.

He stressed that such changes were needed mostly after any general election like the recently concluded 2019 polls in Nigeria.

He, however, lamented that President Muhammadu Buhari did not sign the electoral bill that would have automated the entire process.

The president had cited nearness to the election for refusing to sign the piece of legislation, promising to assent to it after the general elections.

Karlsen spoke yesterday at a symposium on, “The Promotion of Inclusivity in The Electoral Process: Women, Youth and Persons With Disability” at the sixth ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions (ECONEC).

“It is important not to wait until it is too late. There is a dilemma in waiting for political reforms when they are most needed until after the election, as there is quite often no political will. When it becomes possible right immediately before the elections, then it is too late,” he stated.

The EU chief said for the continued stability and economic growth of the nations in the West African sub-region, inclusivity must be provided for in the electoral process, adding: “It is about the legitimacy and giving a voice to our people.”

He noted: “If that inclusivity is not provided, we risk undermining our democracy and the continued stability and economic growth of our countries and region. That is why we are looking at the participation of the youths, women, people with disability, marginalised poor people and internally displaced persons (IDPs).”

Karlsen argued that if the affected countries fail to seek full participation of these groups fundamentally at the end of today, they risk undermining the very political platforms that they have created.

Drawing some lessons from this year’s general elections, he said: “Looking at the recent election experience in Nigeria, I see a lot of hope moving forward.”

“There are some positive takeaways and there are some negative ones. On the positive side, we saw the passing of the ‘not-too-young-to-run’ bill that allows younger people to participate in the electoral process.

“We saw it in the passing of a bill for people with disabilities. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in particular championed new and innovative ways of having people with disabilities vote during the polls.”

He said they also saw serious shortcomings and challenges, stating: “As the deputy speaker mentioned before, there was low participation and election of women at the polls.”

Karlsen enjoined participants not to consider inclusivity as something for the international community and projects alone.

“Somebody said politics is too important to leave to politicians alone. Maybe, I am not the right person to say this, but I will say it nevertheless, inclusivity in the democratic processes is far too important to leave to the international community and projects alone.

“This is about your policies, your nations, it is about building real chains so that the change agenda takes to supporting exactly that,” he added.

The head of the delegation stressed that all hands should be on deck since a workable electoral system takes full participation and political will.

“That is why I was so reassured listening to representatives of the National Assembly committing themselves to these reforms, ” Karlsen submitted.





Buhari assures ECONEC member states of Nigeria’s assistance

President Muhammadu Buhari has assured ECOWAS member states of Nigeria’s continued bilateral electoral assistance to countries in the sub-region based on need.

Buhari made the pledge while declaring open the Symposium/Biennial General Assembly of the ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions (ECONEC) on Monday in Abuja.

Buhari, represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, said that Nigeria would continue to support democratic consolidation in the sub-region.

“One way of doing so is for the Election Management Bodies (EMBs) to take the lead through peer support.

“I have followed with keen interest, the efforts of ECONEC in this regard.

“In the last two years, ECONEC, under the leadership of the Nigerian Electoral body Chairman, has been a strong advocate for Nigeria’s bilateral electoral assistance to countries in the sub-region based on need.

“Within the limits of available resources, Nigeria has responded by providing material and technical support to ECONEC.

“The more recent examples include logistics support to Sierra Leone, deployment of experts from INEC on the request of ECOWAS and the United Nations to assist in cleaning up the voters’ register in Liberia ahead of the Presidential run-off election in 2017.

“Also the provision of voter registration equipment to Guinea Bissau which facilitated the conduct of a parliamentary election in March this year.

“I want to assure you of Nigeria’s continued assistance because credible election in our sub-region is not only good for democracy and periodic elections, it is also good for overall sub-regional stability.

“We cannot allow the failure of the political process to destabilise our countries to the extent that regional military intervention becomes inevitable as is unfortunately still the case in the sub-region,’’ he said.

Buhari said that with the successful conduct of parliamentary elections in Guinea Bissau in March, the next big step was the Presidential election in the country.

“I urge ECONEC to continue to work with ECOWAS by engaging with all stakeholders in the country for a successful Presidential election scheduled for Nov. 24, that will restore stability and eventually facilitate the withdrawal of troops,” the president said.

Buhari said that ECONEC being a platform for mutual assistance in the promotion of credible elections through experience sharing, peer learning and capacity building brought out the best electoral standards and practices in the ECOWAS region.

The president said it was significant to note that the symposium was on inclusivity.

“This is a very encouraging sign of our steady progress in ensuring that all segments of our society have a voice in the management of public affairs, especially through the democratic process.”

Buhari said it was also an indication that in spite of the progress achieved so far, more needed to be done by Governments through legislation, by political parties through affirmative action in the nomination of candidates for election.

He also stressed the need for unrelenting advocacy by all stakeholders for greater inclusion of all segments of society in the democratic and electoral processes.

“It is for this reason that before the last General Election in Nigeria, I assented to a constitutional amendment bill that reduced the age required of a candidate to contest for some elective offices.

“This followed the strong but peaceful advocacy by young men and women around the slogan of `Not-too-young-to-run’ as the bill passed by the National Assembly was popularly called.

“On the historic occasion of signing the bill into law on May 31, 2018, I hosted young persons from all the States of the Federation,” while assuring that it is just the beginning.

“We should continue to ensure that not only the youth but other categories of citizens such as persons living with disabilities and those internally displaced for a variety of reasons are integrated into the electoral process in Nigeria in particular and other countries in our sub-region in general.”

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the three-day symposium and general assembly is being attended by members of ECONECS from 15 countries.

He thereafter declared open the symposium with the theme “Promotion of Inclusivity in the Electoral Process”.



Xenophobic attacks in Ghana

Recent reports that Nigerians are being maltreated in a neighbouring West African country, Ghana are alarming, especially at a time the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) just joined the rest of Africa and signed a remarkable trade agreement for the continent.

Specifically, it is high time that the Federal Government did something about its foreign policy thrust on xenophobic attacks on Nigerians. Nigerians should not be made endangered species in any country. This is unacceptable. That robs us of our dignity.

According to reports, shops belonging to Nigerians were recently locked up by Ghanaian traders at the popular Opera Square Electronic Market in the central business district of Accra. The angry traders reportedly attacked Nigerian traders and sealed off their shops. But some Nigerian traders were said to have resisted in self-defence, which led to a brawl, before the police took control of the situation.

The leadership of the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) and executives of the Nigeria Union of Traders Association in Ghana (NUTAG) were summoned by the Accra Regional Police Force to resolve the matter.
According to the Accra Regional Operations Officer of the Ghana Police, Chief Superintendent Kwasi Ofori, measures were put in place to ensure that sanity prevailed.

That incident was the second time in recent weeks that Nigerian traders at the market had been attacked by the Ghana Electrical Dealers Association (GEDA).The first incident in June, when several shops were also locked up by GEDA was swiftly resolved and the shops reopened about 48 hours later. The latest incident, which was instigated a few days after the Ghanaian Parliament threw its weight behind the traders by insisting that foreigners must be barred from retail business in the country, was more pronounced.

Consequently, the President of GUTA, Dr. Joseph Obeng, reiterated that the ban on retail business by foreigners must be enforced. This was so curious.“These foreign retailers have found a loophole in our retail laws and are capitalising on that…We will not sit down and watch them take over our market,” Obeng reportedly stated. This obvious official endorsement, no doubt, sparked off the attack against Nigerian traders. We strongly condemn the unwarranted rage against Nigerian traders in Ghana. And we would like to see a dialogue between Nigerian and Ghanaian authorities to find a lasting and amicable solution to this strange emerging xenophobia in West Africa.

The anti-Nigerian sentiment in many countries is subsisting due to the failure of the Federal Government to promptly reciprocate any unfriendly treatment against Nigerians anywhere. Government is, completely at liberty to respond appropriately, as a way of ending the xenophobia.

For instance, this is not the first time Ghana had maltreated Nigerians. Last January, Ghana deported 723 Nigerians on alleged illegal stay, cybercrime and prostitution between January 2018 and January 2019. The Ghanaian government clearly acted then based on mere suspicion without thorough investigation.

Whereas the Nigerian High Commissioner to Ghana, Michael Abikoye merely protested against the ill-treatment meted out to Nigerians by the Ghanaian Immigration Service (GIS), the authorities in Abuja did absolutely nothing more. This might have given Ghana the impetus the other day to deport a Nigerian professor on a flimsy charge.

While we don’t condone any form of criminality on the part of Nigerians, inhuman treatment and torture of Nigerians in Ghana should no longer be tolerated by the Nigerian government.It is unfortunate that the Nigerian traders’ shops were sealed not for any criminality but for doing legitimate business. If Nigerians are barred from engaging in retail trade, what then is the essence of the ECOWAS protocol that guarantees free movement and settlement of nationals of member countries within the community? The same ECOWAS is currently planning to introduce a common currency within the sub-region to enhance trade activities.

We recall that at the height of Ghana’s economic woes in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, thousands of Ghanaians were in Nigeria engaged in all manner of menial jobs that, ordinarily, should be left to Nigerians, just to eke out a living and they were allowed to do so.

Ordinarily, what should be required of traders to own a shop is to register and pay the stipulated fees. Only then would those who refused to register can be sanctioned appropriately.

But to profile all Nigerian traders for such ill-treatment is in bad taste. There should be tolerance. Ghana should protect ECOWAS citizens doing legitimate business. It will be a disaster if the ECOWAS house is made to fall for lack of capacity to observe simple protocols freely agreed to govern members.


Nigeria’s fight against cybercrimes ranked 57th globally

Nigeria’s campaign against the menace of cybercrimes in the country have been ranked 57th out of the 175 countries surveyed in 2018 to have commitment towards a safer online space. It ranked fifth in Africa.

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU), through its Global Cybersecurity Index (GCI), which conducted the study, claimed that Nigeria’s commitment towards fighting the threat is medium. Nigeria is in the same category with United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Kuwait, Tunisia, and 50 others.

The commitment of United Kingdom, USA, France, Egypt, Kenya, and 49 others was ranked high, while Gabon, Algeria, and 86 others were ranked low.

Recall that the former Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, had decried the rise of cybercrimes in Nigeria, saying the country was losing N127 billion yearly to porous online space.

Last week, Sophos had revealed that cybercriminals had increased their attacks via multiple channels, hence increasing the difficulty to defend networks. This multiple channels of attacks also imply that there is no one defensive strategy.

Noting that the wide range, multiple stages attacks are proving effective, Principal Research Scientist, Sophos’, Chester Wisniewski, said cybercriminals are evolving their attack methods and often use multiple payloads to maximise profits.

Meanwhile, while calling for more concerted efforts among nations, ITU, the United Nations arm in charge of global communications, said studies have shown that global average cost of a data breach was up 6.4 per cent in 2018. Due to the boost in the use of ICTs, the projected cybercrime cost will be an estimated $2 trillion by the end of 2019.

According to ITU, there have been less ransomware attacks, but more personal data and critical infrastructure breaches, including in hundreds of universities.

The UN body noted that there is still a visible gap between many countries in terms of knowledge for the implementation of cybercrime legislation, national cybersecurity strategies (NCS), computer emergency response teams (CERTs), awareness and capacity to spread out the strategies, and capabilities and programmes in the field of cybersecurity. It stressed that sustainable development in this area should ensure the resilient and adequate use of ICTs as well as economic growth.

According to ITU, the goal of the GCI is to help countries identify areas for improvement in cybersecurity, as well as motivate them to take action to improve their ranking, thus raising the overall level of cybersecurity worldwide.

The body said through the collected information, GCI aims to illustrate the practices of others so that countries can implement selected aspects suitable to their national environment, with the added benefit of helping to harmonise practices, and foster a global culture of cybersecurity.

Going forward, ITU said cooperation will play a major role in cybersecurity development. With the increasing interest in cybersecurity knowledge sharing and transfer in organisations, cooperation among relevant stakeholders such as central government, local public authorities, the private sector, academia, civil society, and international organisations become imperative.

ITU also called on countries to join the initiatives carried out in their regions to provide support in cybersecurity awareness and capacity building. In the Africa region, the UN body said member states can participate in the ECOWAS Convention on Cybersecurity, the SADC cyber drills and capacity building activities, and the East African Initiatives.

Already, software firm, Microsoft, had called for safer online community in Nigeria for improved economic growth.

Microsoft said the call became necessary following increasing phishing attacks on the Nigerian community, which it said is the biggest security headache for businesses and individuals, is among the hardest to tackle. The American technology company said phishing increased by over 250 per cent in Nigeria, and other parts of the world.



Mali’s standoff, a time bomb to Nigeria, others, ECOWAS…

The Parliament of the Economic Community of West Africans States (ECOWAS) has raised the alarm over the isolated treatment of the Malian impasse by member-states, warning that the rest nations in the sub-region were sitting on a keg powder on account of the unabated standoff.

A delegation to the beleaguered West African nation, in its preliminary assessment yesterday of its visits to camps of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Mopti and Bamako, urged for a swift resolution of the crisis, adding that no part in the entire sub-region was longer safe.

The team, which gathered relevant data concerning the refugees and first-hand information about their condition, sought to know if the rights of the affected persons to healthcare, shelter, food, and education had been respected.

The parliamentarians also engaged heads of the affected communities.

The trips, which gave the delegation a clear lead to addressing the problem in the country, gave direction on the need for a more critical look at the underlying triggers of the conflict in the first place as a good start to resolving the imbroglio.

Malian lawmaker, Fatimara Fonba, called on the parliament to also consider the role of some foreign political interests accused of fuelling the crisis in its report.

A member of the parliament, She said: “As representatives of the people, we should do something. We have to act and deal with the issues. Also, the involvement of the Parliament is necessary.

‘’It is a big mistake to think only Mali is threatened by this situation. We, as members of parliament, have a responsibility to find out what is behind the issues.

“Governments might not be able to say a number of things, but we as MPs are free to represent our people, criticise and condemn some initiatives.”

A member from Nigeria, Foster Ogola, stated that the only way the crisis in the country could be solved was to identify its root cause and grievances of the masterminds.

To Senator Mohammed Lafiaji, another MP from Nigeria, the legislative body should extend its peace efforts to other West African countries where necessary because ‘’if one part of the body is not functioning, the whole body does not.”

He urged that delegates should be sent to other nations in search of solutions.

The speaker, Moustapha Cisse Lo, while closing the session, submitted that the engagements in Mali had been fruitful and insightful.

He called on authorities in the sub-region to collectively address the crisis at hand, pointing out that the affected country “occupies a key position as a hub in the heart of Africa.”





‘192 Million in ECOWAS sub-region lack access to electricity’


About 192 million of the 330 million people living in West Africa do not have access to electricity.

The Executive Director, Economic Community of West Africa State (ECOWAS) Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE), Mr. Mahamah Kappiah, disclosed this during an oversight visit by members of ECOWAS Parliament to the centre in Praia, Cape Verde.

He said only eight per cent of rural population in the region has access to electricity, attributing the poor development to population growth.

Statistics released by the centre revealed that Sierra Leone has the least access rate to electricity in the ECOWAS region, with less than 30 per cent of its urban community and two per cent of its rural population having access to electricity.

Cape Verde, on the other hand, has the highest rate of access to electricity, with more than 90 per cent access rate in its urban community and 65 per cent in rural areas.

He said the centre has formulated a regional policy in collaboration with the 15 member states to come up with an action plan for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency.

Translate »