By Abdul Malik Bangura
President of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission, His Excellency Dr Jean Claude Kassi Brou, has on Saturday 25th July 2020 congratulated Speaker of the 5th Legislature of ECOWAS Parliament His Excellency Sidie Mohamed Tunis and pledged the Commission’s total support to the Parliament.
Whilst delivering his speech to the regional members of parliament at the ECOWAS Parliament’s 2nd extraordinary session of 2020 held via videoconference between Monday 20th to Saturday 25th July 2020, the President of ECOWAS Commission said: “It is together, strong and united that we will win, that we will triumph over the evils which overwhelm us to turn resolutely towards the objectives of regional integration. In this regard, I would like to assure you that the Commission and all the other ECOWAS Institutions stand ready to work together with you for the achievement of all the objectives of our organization.”
Also, the ECOWAS Commission President dilated that for ECOWAS Parliament to be able to play its role, they must work in “coordination and synergy, revitalize and re-establish our framework for exchanges between Parliament’s standing committees and Departments of the ECOWAS Commission; contribute concretely and effectively to the development and implementation of Community programs which have an impact on our populations; strengthen institutional dialogue and communication; cooperate judiciously to make the ECOWAS area space of peace, security and development; put to good use the input, utility and support of Parliament for the visibility of ECOWAS in member states.”
Furthermore, HE Dr Jean Claude Kassi Brou added that the Community Levy (PC) remains the most important source of income and funding for ECOWAS programs and activities. However, he said, one of the harmful consequences of the coronavirus pandemic is the significant drop in imports in the region, which necessarily affects the mobilization of products from the community levy. Thus, he said “as of June 30, 2020, the Community has only succeeded in mobilizing 11.8% of PC revenue. This is why we ask you to advocate for the mobilization of your respective Parliaments for the timely contribution of your countries to the fruits of the Community Levy. In doing so, the Commission will include in its field missions, the Honorable Members of the Parliament of ECOWAS to reap the fruits of the PC following the strengthening of inter-institutional cooperation.”
Moreover, the ECOWAS Commission President added that the significance of the gathering for the second time in the Extraordinary Session of the Fifth Legislature of the year 2020 is following the relevant provisions of the Additional Act relating to the strengthening of the prerogatives of Parliament that the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the ECOWAS adopted on December 17, 2016, in particular in its Chapter V, relating to the competences and the processes of adoption of the community acts, in Article 5 relating to the modalities of participation in the processes of the community acts which stipulates that: “the Parliament expresses its opinion when adopting Community acts, either by Notice or Compliant notice.”
Meanwhile, in his closing remarks, the Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament, His Excellency Sidie Mohamed Tunis on behalf of the members expressed their profound gratitude to the President of the ECOWAS Commission, His Excellency Dr Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, and his “team of competent Commissioners and Technocrats, for the collaboration between our two important Institutions.”
HE Tunis furthered that: “Over the years since the inception of the Parliament, our collaboration with the Commission had grown wider; covering virtually all areas associated with the integration process. Ours is a symbiotic relationship, in which we as politicians are expected to promote the ideals of the Community at the level of Member States, while the Commission, with its team of competent technocrats, is to ensure total implementation of programmes and policies. We are determined to reap maximal benefits out of this relationship and we expect it to yield adequate rewards for the promotion of the vision of our founding fathers.”
Also, HE Tunis said, unfortunately, the 5th Legislature of the ECOWAS Parliament had to encounter a great challenge almost immediately after inauguration due to the global Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic. He added, “There is no doubt that the remaining part of 2020 and early 2021 would be highly challenging, both economically and socially. Ours is to collaborate with our Governments, both at national and regional levels, to ensure that we protect the interest of our people and work towards easing their affairs during this anticipated difficult period.”
Whilst concluding and closing the 2020 2nd Extraordinary Session, ECOWAS Parliament Speaker HE Tunis said their “duty as Community Parliamentarians is not restricted to when we hold meetings or other activities. We remain Community Members of Parliament wherever we find ourselves. We should, therefore, endeavour to preach the ideal of ECOWAS at all times and in all places.”
Meanwhile, it could be recalled that for the very first time, the community parliament met via videoconference for a six-day virtual extraordinary session to consider some referrals from Community institutions on germane issues that border on the wellbeing of the people of the sub-region. Notable among the referrals are Request by the President of the ECOWAS Commission seeking assistance from the Parliament in implementing the ECOWAS protocol on the community levy; That Parliament takes decision relating to the contribution of ECOWAS Member States to the African Union Solidarity Fund in the fight against COVID-19; Referral from the ECOWAS Commission on the fight against COVID-19, the stabilization and recovery of the economies of ECOWAS Member States amongst others.