Absence of a Real Parliament, a Minus for ECOWAS at 40- Ekweremadu …Commends ECOWAS on regional peace

Absence of a Real Parliament, a Minus for ECOWAS at 40- Ekweremadu
…Commends ECOWAS on regional peace
The Speaker of the Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS Parliament, Senator Ike Ekweremadu has described the continued absence of a proper legislative arm as a huge setback for the ECOWAS at forty.
He stated this at the closing of the 2015 First Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament in Abuja on Wednesday.
Addressing the Parliament, Senator Ekweremadu said it was “sad to note that forty years after its establishment, ECOWAS cannot boast of a regional parliament in true sense of a parliament”.
He noted that although an ECOWAS Parliament was inaugurated in year 2000, the Community Parliament had remained a sheer talk shop and a resource drain since it does not perform any legislative function.
He regretted that although the New Article 13 of the Supplementary Protocol amending the 1994 Protocol on the Parliament provides for the progressive enhancement of the ECOWAS Parliament from advisory to co-decision making and subsequently to a law making body, the body had remained the same fifteen years after it was inaugurated.
Also interacting with journalists at the Parliament, Senator Ekweremadu explained that the relevant ECOWAS bodies such as the Body of Attorneys-General of the subregion, Administration and Finance Committee, and ECOWAS Council of Ministers had all considered the Suplementary Act on the Enhancement of the powers of the ECOWAS Parliament, affirmed its legal sufficiency, financial propriety and recommended it to the Authority of Heads of State for assent.
He said that although the Authority adopted the Act as its 46th Ordinary Session in Abuja in December 2014, it was regrettably not signed at its recent 47th Ordinary Session in Accra because of the opposition mounted by Senagal and Cote’divoire.
Describing the development as a huge setback, the Senator observed: “It is so disappointing because when we did it with the best of intentions to advance the cause of democracy in the subregion. Today, ECOWAS Parliament is the only parliament anywhere in the world that doesn’t perform legislative functions. We consider that we come here twice in a year to just talk without achieving anything; without adding value to governance in the sub region and yet we are paid, so for us, it is not proper.
“If the ECOWAS authorities believe that the ECOWAS Parliament does not need to have powers, of course it doesn’t need to exist in the first place. You can’t have a parliament that does not perform parliamentary functions. So, we urge the Authority of Heads of States to reconsider their stand and please sign the Supplementary Act so that we can have a functional and productive subregional parliament”.
On the argument by President of Cote D’ivoire that the legislature does not oversight the executive in the French-speaking parts of West Africa, Ekweremadu said: “France from which they got their independence is a member of the EU and submits to oversight by the EU Parliament. If France submits to EU parliament for oversight, I see no reason why those who learnt their language and culture in West Africa should not submit themselves to oversight. And I believe that serious international organisations would be reconsidering submitting their money to any organisation that is averse to oversight.
“Besides, the French speaking countries in West Africa, including Cote D’ivoire belong to the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA), which is like a community within the Community. They are contributing to the UEMOA, yet ECOWAS is only mainly funded by Nigeria, Ghana and a few others. UEMOA now has a functional parliament, common currency, and a central bank”.
He added that the take-off of ECOWAS common currency programme and the second monetary zone for the English speaking West Africa as well as proper parliament for ECOWAS have been problematic because of the lack of commitment on the part of some member states.
Meanwhile, the Speaker has commended the ECOWAS for its achievements in regional peace and preservation of democracy.
He saluted the foresight of the founding fathers of ECOWAS in setting up the regional body as a veritable platform for regional stability, integration, and development, while also paying special tribute to gallant soldiers and compatriots who had paid the supreme price to secure peace, stability, and democracy in the sub-region.

Uche Anichukwu
Special Adviser (Media) to Deputy President of the Senate