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ECOWAS Parliament Proposes Mediation Committee For Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger

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ECOWAS Parliament Proposes Mediation Committee For Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger

ECOWAS plans to prevail on Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger to retrace their steps and reunite with the regional bloc.

The Acting Speaker of the Parliament, Barau Jibrin, who is also the Deputy President of the Nigerian Senate, said the machinery has been set in motion to do this.

Jibrin, speaking at the opening of 2024 Second Extraordinary Session of the Sixth Legislature of the ECOWAS Parliament in Kano State on Tuesday, noted that there is no alternative to a strong united regional bloc.

He said: ”I will, in consultation with my colleagues on the Bureau, be proposing the appointment of an Ad hoc Mediation Committee whose mandate will be to work with all stakeholders in getting our brothers to rescind their decision and come home and work towards promoting dialogue with a view to resolving conflicts in the region. It’s no doubt that we are stronger and there is absolutely no alternative to our collective aspirations of a united, peaceful and secure ECOWAS.

Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso had in January this year announced their withdrawal from the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS.

The junta-led countries had been suspended from the regional bloc for coup d’état and were urged to return to democratic rule.

Jubrin disclosed the session will also provide an opportunity for the Community Parliament to deliberate and provide fresh perspectives on pressing issues in the ECOWAS Region and proffer recommendations on how peace, security and stability can be attained.

”As the Parliament looks towards facilitating the promotion of democracy, checks and balances, as well as accountability in the ECOWAS Community, having a strong ECOWAS Parliament is indispensable. I have had the esteemed honour of leading this Parliament for barely two months and I have concluded that much needs to be done in terms of asserting the independence of the Parliament in the exercise of its important roles of parliamentary oversight and representation

“There is, also, a compelling need to build strong collaboration with the ECOWAS Commission and undertake joint initiatives aimed at strengthening regional security and advancing development. While it is true that each institution has its unique prerogatives, the fact remains that there exist cross-cutting issues that are best addressed with enhanced collaboration among the community institutions.”

On the delegation of Togo to the parliament,  Jibrin disclosed that the delegation from that country that the speakership of the sixth legislature has be zoned to, is expected to be sworn in as members of the parliament before the end of the session. 

“I wish to also inform this house that a Parliamentary Fact-finding mission was dispatched to the Republic of Togo. The delegation ascertained circumstances surrounding the notable absence of the Togolese delegation, which, by virtue of the Supplementary Act on the Enhancement of the Powers of the Parliament, deserves the Speakership, and held discussions with national stakeholders on other political issues. I am pleased to report that we received very favorable response from the Togolese authorities that our brothers from Togo will be inaugurated as soon as possible.

He noted that since the inauguration of the sixth legislature of the ECOWAS Parliament on Thursday, April, 2024, it has been able make some notable achievements and participated in various regional, continental and international programmes.

“Within this short period, the ECOWAS Parliament participated in the Third Parliamentary Policy Dialogue on the Protection of Vulnerable Targets against terrorism, which was hosted by the United Nations Office on Counter Terrorism, a Capacity Building Training on Labor Migration Governance under the auspices of the African Union Commission and the International Conference on enhancing the role, relevance, and effectiveness of the ECOWAS Court of Justice through the strengthening of synergies between the Court and national stakeholders, which was hosted by our sister Institution the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice.

“Additionally, members of the ECOWAS Female Parliamentarian Association were invited by the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies to share experience with the National Assembly of Nigeria on the modalities in establishing a multi-party women’s caucus in the Nigerian National Assembly. We look forward to more of such engagements, especially with our counterparts at the National Level, with the view to promoting regional integration.”

In an interview with journalists, Sen. Ali Ndume who is perhaps the longest serving member of the regional parliament, said the departing members time out is surely over now, as all that was needed to big them back into the fold is now in place.

He noted that the decision to leave the bloc if it could be recalled was made after the coup in Niger was condemned by all members especially Nigeria.

He insisted that the bad blood which led to the decision to leave has since been drained and Niger is no longer annoyed with sister West African countries especially Nigeria and as such the country from all indications is ready to come back.

In his address the Kano state Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf, emphasized the need to tackle the citizenship issues among ECOWAS member countries, regional security, integration, environmental and natural resources challenges, and higher education, employment, poverty, and democratic volatility.

He cautioned against allowing global powers to turn the region into a dumping ground for finished goods, stressing that Africa is not a dumping ground for global markets.

The Kano Governor urged the Regional Parliament to revisit the issue of a common currency and passports, which would enhance the region’s economic viability and global competitiveness.

Yusuf expressed concern about the proliferation of illicit drugs and arms and light weapons, calling for concerted efforts to combat these menaces.

He said that, despite challenges, the West African regional Gross Domestic Product (GDP) stood at $633 billion as of 2023, highlighting the region’s potential to become a significant global economic key player.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs in Nigeria, Yusuf Tuggar, in a message, assured the community of Nigeria’s Government continued support while identifying ECOWAS Parliament as vital institution in fostering regional integration.

Tuggar, represented by Ambassador Musa Nuhu, the Permanent Representative of Nigeria to ECOWAS, stressed the need for ECOWAS Community to strengthen its democratic institutions for the benefits of the region.

He said, “we need to collaborate with all organs and institutions within the ECOWAS. You have at your disposal so many instruments to use for you to achieve that.”

The Minister urged the ECOWAS Parliament to use its various mechanisms to engage member countries that currently under unconstitutional changes of government.

Tuggar said, “as regional Parliamentarians, you have a role to play in harnessing the cooperation of our people. The Parliamentarians are closer to our populace and that is why you have to underscore the importance of the role you have are occupying today especially in this period where our sub-regional organization is so much challenged with numerous issues.”

He described the hosting of the regional meeting in the commercial city of Kano as important as it will greatly bridge the gap between the citizens and the regional community.

During this session, the regional parliament is expected to hold deliberations and adopt three very important instruments which bear heavily on the progress and effective implementation of our mandate.

They are, the Rules of Procedure of the Sixth Legislature, which was deferred from our Inaugural session. The Strategic Plan of the Sixth Legislature, and The Work Plan of the year 2024.

The Rules of Procedure serves as a guide and direction for the parliament in checking   procedural deficiencies.

The Strategic Plan, on the other hand, serves as a crucial and indispensable tool in ensuring that the programs and activities of the parliament are directly linked with the overall strategic institutional objectives of ECOWAS, while the Work Plan sets the agenda for the engagements the year.

Five parliamentarians were sworn as members of the regional parliament at the opening of the session by the acting speaker of the parliament, Senator Jibrin.

The ceremony was attended by the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero, the Emir of Bichi, Alhaji Nasiru Ado Bayero, the Emir Karaye, Alhaji Ibrahim Abubakar II and Emir of Gaya, Alhaji Aliyu Ibrahim.

Michael Olugbode in Abuja

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