ECOWAS Parliament at 20 Years Anniversary …
Speaker Sidie Mohamed Tunis Determined To Consolidate Gains Made So Far
Speaker of the regional Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS) Parliament, His Excellency Rt Honourable Sidie Mohamed Tunis has said he is fully charged and extremely determined to consolidate the gains made so far throughout the twenty (20) years of the existence of the regional law making body.
HE Tunis made this robust disclosure in is congratulatory message on the commemoration of the 20th anniversary celebration of ECOWAS Parliament on Monday 16th November 2020.
In his remarks, HE Tunis said “the ECOWAS Parliament has metamorphosed into an Institution that can be reckoned with regionally, continentally and even globally,” adding that “in twenty years, there are remarkable achievements and progress. Such achievements are glaring in view of the fact that at the moment, the people of the sub-region can be said to own the processes that lead to the actions and interventions taken on their behalf.”
Speaking on the reason for the establishment of the ECOWAS Parliament, the Speaker said it is “to provide adequate representation for the people in community.” Consequently, the Speaker said that Parliament “is expected to provide a voice for the people in the integration process and ensure that they understand and take advantage of community programmes and policies towards improving their general wellbeing. This sentiment is also in consonance with the ECOWAS Vision 2020, whose catchy phrase is the transformation from an ECOWAS of States to an ECOWAS of People.”
On the achievements so far since the establishment of the ECOWAS Parliament, the Speaker said that the regional organization “in its operations has created mechanisms to forge greater ties with the citizens of the sub-region.”
Furthermore, he said, ECOWAS Parliament “has strengthened representative democracy in the Community; contributing towards the promotion of peace, security, and stability. The Parliament has also been involved in the promotion of the principles of human rights, democracy, the rule of law, transparency, accountability and good governance. Most importantly, with the adoption of the Supplementary Act relating to the Enhancement of the Powers of the Parliament in December, 2016, more responsibilities have been given to the Institution. Currently, the Parliament has oversight functions over programme implementing Agencies. It equally considers the Community budget and renders an opinion.”
Hence, the Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament assured the West African citizens that the leadership of the 5th Legislature is committed to ensuring that the ECOWAS Parliament is brought closer to them and that the integration mantra will not just be strengthened, but brought to its finality. He said “we are determined to further consolidate the gains of the last two decades. With your support and cooperation, we are sure to succeed.”
Meanwhile, according to research, the ECOWAS Parliament, also known as the Community Parliament, in the last 20 years has proven to be one of the vital institutions of ECOWAS. It is the Assembly of Peoples of the Community serving as a forum for dialogue, consultation and consensus for Representatives of the people of West Africa with the aim of promoting integration. It was established under Articles 6 and 13 of the ECOWAS Revised Treaty of 1993. The initial Protocol establishing the Parliament was signed in Abuja on August 6, 1994. It provided for the Structure, Composition, Competence and other matters relating to the Parliament. The Parliament is composed of one hundred and fifteen (115) seats. Each Member State shall have a guaranteed minimum of five (5) seats. The remaining forty (40) seats shall be shared on the basis of population.
The First Legislature was inaugurated in Bamako, Mali with a five-year mandate (16 November 2000 to 5 October 2005). The Rt. Honourable Prof. Ali Nouhoum Diallo was elected the first Speaker. Subsequently, the Parliament held its First Ordinary Session in January 2001 at its Seat in Abuja, the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In 2006, a Supplementary Protocol was signed to amend certain sections of the initial Protocol relating to the Parliament, notably, the Life of the Legislature and Terms of Office, both of which changed from five to four years.
Following the restructuring of ECOWAS Institutions by the Authority of Heads of State and Government in 2006, in which the life span of the Legislature was reduced to four years, the Second Legislature was inaugurated on 11thNovember 2006, under the leadership of His Excellency Mahamane Ousmane from the Republic of Niger. The Legislature lasted until 10th November, 2010.
The Third Legislature was inaugurated on 8 August 2011 with Distinguished Senator Dr. Ike Ekweremadu from Nigeria as the Speaker of Parliament. That Legislature lasted till 7th August, 2015.
The Fourth Legislature of the ECOWAS Parliament was inaugurated at its first sitting on 4 February 2016. The Right Honourable Moustapha Cisse Lo from Senegal, was elected Speaker. It was inaugurated by H.E. Macky Sall, President of the Senegal and then Chairman of Authority of Heads of State and Government. The Legislature lasted until 3rd February, 2020.
This fifth Legislature of the ECOWAS Parliament was inaugurated during its first sitting on 9th March, 2020 by His Excellency, Issoufou Mahamadou, President of the Republic of Niger and then Chairman of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government. Right Honourable Sidie Mohamed Tunis from Sierra Leone was elected Speaker and he is to hold that position until 2024.
By Abdul Malik Bangura
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