Senate President Bukola Saraki has appealed to member states to give the ECOWAS Parliament greater authorisation to legislate on common issues to facilitate sub-regional development.
Saraki made the appeal at the 2016 First Ordinary Session of the
parliament in Abuja on Monday.
“Other regional bodies including those who we inspired have moved faster towards integration than we have.
“Sadly, this has been due to our inability to add to the institutional building blocks and muster the courage to reorder our structures for the vision of a virile and integrated ECOWAS.
“The ECOWAS Parliament remains a critical place to start.
“We must as a necessity give the parliament great authorisation and capacity to duly legislate on common areas and provide oversight on certain issues of common interest and interdependency.
“For as long as we are unable to or fail to remit to this parliament more powers, the dreams of greater integration will continue to remain a myth.
“This singular reason may be responsible for the lack of adequate cohesion in the fight against terrorism, cross border crimes and the implementation of agreed trade agreements and protocols.”
He said that the parliament had come of age to legislate and provide oversight on issues that would promote integration and enhance intra African relations.
The Senate President emphasised that more progress was needed in the areas of enforcement of ECOWAS regional trade agreements with enhanced legislative powers of the parliament.
He also commended past efforts made by the parliament in its current capacity as an advisory body adding that citizens needed to understand the ECOWAS mandate beyond free movement.
“As we speak, the average citizen of ECOWAS is yet to feel meaningfully, the impact of the ECOWAS union beyond free movement of persons and goods.
“This is another reason I believe the enhancement of the ECOWAS Parliament remit merits deliberations.”
Saraki also said that there was need for the sub-regional bloc to review protocols and treaties in order to “create a more virile union that can deal with the challenges of the 21st century”.
The Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Moustapha Cissé Lo, said that parliament would revise the Supplementary Act on the Enhancement of the Powers of the Parliament.
Cissé Lo, who spoke through an interpreter, said the idea was to enable the parliament make necessary adjustments to the document to bepresented to the Authority of Heads of State.
He also said that the ongoing session would deliberate on the various committee reports and examine ongoing programmes of the parliament.
“We are going to listen to the statement by the president of the ECOWAS Commission which will be on the state of the community.
“The other days will focus on country reports that will contain the political, economic and security situation in the member states.
“The committees of the parliament will meet as joint committees to examine the programmes and decisions of the parliament.
“There is going to be a special day to examine the content of the rules of procedure.
“Our legal adviser will be in the position to explain to everybody so they know the contents of the rules of procedure.
“The audit and finance committee will also examine a document on the 2015 budget.”