Parliament is established under Article 6 (in the list of Community institutions) and 13 (which specifically provides its establishment) of the ECOWAS Revised Treaty of 1993. In Article 2 of the Supplementary Act, the House of Representatives of the peoples of the Community shall be designated the “ECOWAS Parliament”.
The ECOWAS Parliament is currently at its 5th Legislature since inception at the inaugural session of the 1st Legislature on 16 November, 2000, at Bamako, Mali. The 5th Legislature was installed by President Mahamadou Issoufou of the Republic of Niger and the current Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of state and Government, at Niamey, on 13 March, 2020.
In line with the rotational system of the alphabetical order of Member States, the Speakership of the ECOWAS Parliament fell on the Republic of Sierra Leone. Consequently, Rt. Hon. Speaker Sidie Mohammed Tunis, a ranking member of the Sierra leone delegation to the Parliament, was unanimously elected to preside over the 5th Legislature, with a tenure of four years.
OBJECTIVES / COMPETENCE OF THE PARLIAMENT
Article 4 of the Supplementary Act relating to the enhancement of the powers of Parliament stipulates that the objectives of the Parliament shall among others, be to:
a. Contribute to the efficient and effective implementation of objectives and policies of the Community.
b. Strengthen representative democracy in the Community
c. Ensure the right of scrutiny and involvement of the West African populations in the process of integration of the region.
d. Contribute to the promotion of peace, security and stability in the West African region
e. Participate in the process of enacting Community Acts pursuant to the goals of the Community and in areas defined under the Supplementary Act.
f. Articles 7 and 8 of the Supplementary Act relating to the Enhancement of the Powers of Parliament provide for the competences of Parliament and modalities of Parliamentary participation in the enactment of Community Acts by ways of Parliamentary Opinions or Mandatory Assent.
g. Articles 9 to 15 provide for Mandatory and Non-Mandatory Referrals, Opinions and Mandatory Assents in defined areas and the applicable procedures as well as Parliament’s power to adopt Resolutions in the application of its powers.
BUDGET OF PARLIAMENT AND BUDGETARY POWERS OF PARLIAMENT
Article 16 provides for the financial autonomy of the Parliament in the execution of its budget. While Article 17 (1) provides that the Council of Ministers shall adopt the Community Budget in line with the Treaty, Article 17(2) states that preceding the adoption by Council, Parliament shall consider the Community Budget following the stipulations in a, b, c, d, e, f.
STRUCTURE OF THE PARLIAMENT
LIFE OF A LEGISLATURE
Article 5 of the Supplementary Act determines that the life of the Legislature shall be for four (4) years from the date of its inauguration by the Chairman of Authority of Heads of State and Government.
COMPOSITION OF PARLIAMENT
Article 6 of the Supplementary Act provides that the Parliament shall be composed of one hundred and fifteen (115) seats, with each Member State having a guaranteed minimum of five (5) seats, while the remaining forty (40) seats are shared on the basis of population.
Consequently, Nigeria with the highest population in the sub-region has thirty-five (35) seats, with Ghana following with eight (8) seats, Cote d’Ivoire, seven (7) seats, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali, Niger and Senegal with six (6) seats each. The remaining Member States of Cabo Verde, The Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Togo were allocated five (5) seats each.
SESSIONS OF PARLIAMENT
Article 27 (1) provides that Parliament meets twice in a year in Ordinary Session. No Ordinary Session is to exceed a period of one (1) month. It considers the Community budget during the Second Ordinary Session.
Article 27 (2) stipulates that Parliament may meet in an Extra-Ordinary Session not exceeding seven (7) days, to discuss a specific agenda at the initiative of either the Chairman of Authority or the Speaker, the express request of the Council of the President of the Commission or same in writing addressed to the Speaker, of an absolute majority of Members of Parliament.
Article 28 provides for the convening of the Inaugural Session of Parliament by the Chairman of Authority