As the First Ordinary Session of the Fourth Legislature of the ECOWAS Parliament opens in Abuja, the Federal Government of Nigeria and President Muhammadu Buhari have been commended for securing the release and safe return of the 82 Chibok school girls, abducted three years ago by Boko Haram.
Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, H.E. Moustapha Cisse Lo, who gave the commendation in his address at the opening ceremony, expressed his conviction that in the same spirit and commitment, the Nigerian government will succeed in rescuing the remaining girls who are still held by Boko Haram.
“I must first of all congratulate the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which, while inflicting heavy losses on the extremist Boko Haram sect, succeeded through dialogue in freeing at least 82 of the Chibok girls who have been abducted three years ago”, he stated.
Speaker Cisse Lo further stated that the fight against terrorism is now priority in the programs of the ECOWAS Member States as it has become imperative to mobilize the defense and security forces of Member States especially for events that bring citizens together.
He congratulated the newly elected President of France, Emmanuel Macron for his landslide election to the highest office at the age of 39 years. He also congratulated Mariam Jack Denton on her election as Speaker of the Gambian Parliament, following the legislative election of April 6, 2017 which completed the constitutional order in that country.
In his speech at the occasion, President of the Nigerian Senate and the Chairman of Nigeria’s National Assembly, Dr. Bukola Saraki in his address, challenged the Parliament to prove itself as an effective instrument for fostering closer ECOWAS integration and development.
Sen. Saraki expressed a desire to “..see the Parliament use its powers of advice today to enable greater democratization and provide advice to member countries going through uncertain times.” He also called for the use of law as a veritable tool for developmental co-operation amongst Member States, whilst acknowledging that the institutional role of the ECOWAS Parliament needs to be strengthened the more, in order to enable it play the pivotal role in the developmental aspirations of the region.
Nigeria’s Senate President commended the ECOWAS Heads of State and Authority for approving the quest for enhancing the status of the ECOWAS Parliament to include budget and integration matters and also identified the implication of this enhancement to include the direct election of Members of the Parliament by the citizens of the Community.
On the issue of insecurity, Sen. Saraki said that the problem of Boko Haram and terrorism remains a clear threat to the security of the sub-region noting that the release of 82 Chibok girls was a huge achievement for the entire region.
In his opening remarks, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, H.E. Marcel Alain de Souza who said the implementation of the Supplementary Act would help in speeding up the process of regional integration in West Africa also called for the urgent implementation and enforcement of the Act.
Represented by the Vice President, Mr. Edward Singhatey, the Commission’s President said that “with the adoption of the Supplementary Act, it is important for it to be implemented and enforced without delay. I believe this Supplementary Act would significantly contribute to accelerating our regional integration”.
According to him, the full implementation of the Supplementary Act will enhance transparency and could result to greater feeling of ownership among Member States, of Community policies and programmes. Mr. de Souza noted that the Supplementary Act constitutes the ideal framework for efficient collaboration between the Parliament and all other ECOWAS institutions, adding that it will also enhance the competence of the Parliament.
He challenged Members of the Parliament to actualize the application of the pertinent articles of the Supplementary Act as envisaged by the Heads of State and Government assuring of the Commission’s readiness to work in concert with the Parliament for the implementation of the Supplementary Act.
The First Ordinary Session, which is due to close on the 25th of May, will amongst other things consider and adopt the draft Report of the 2017 Extraordinary Session and Country Reports from Member States. It will also hold discussions with the High Representative of the Republic of Ireland on the experience of Ireland in the area of peace and security as well as familiarize with the Office of the delegation of International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Nigeria, on its mandate and activities.
Additionally, during the two-week long Session, the Parliamentarians are expected to consider and adopt the Reports, Draft Agenda and Work programme of its Standing, Ad Hoc and Joint Committees. Goodwill messages were received from the Liberian Ambassador, current chairman of the Committee of ECOWAS Ambassadors accredited to the Federal Republic of Nigeria and ECOWAS. The Speaker of the National Assembly of Mali, H.E. Issaka Sidibe and his Cabo Verde counterpart, H.E. Jorge Santos also addressed the opening ceremony.