Economic Community of West African States
By Crusoe Osagie
The National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) has charged the new Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) speaker to address the poor implementation of the ECOWAS Treaty and Protocols, especially the Protocol on Free Movement by member states as a major hindrance in achieving regional integration objectives.
The Association, in a message and agenda to the new speaker of the ECOWAS parliament, said there is also a poor adherence to the provisions of the Protocol on Rights of Residence and Establishment.
It added that the problem is further complicated by the lack of access to the ECOWAS Court of Justice by community citizens on violations of their socio-economic rights under this Protocols and the ECOWAS Treaty itself.
“NANTS has been canvassing for the compliance of member States with these laws, but has also noted that the role of the ECOWAS Parliament in cases like this is unfortunately limited to merely advisory as it lacks law making powers necessary for the review of sub-optimal provisions in a Protocol,” the association said.
“It is therefore our expectation that your administration as the Speaker of the Parliament would strengthen the extant weak powers of the ECOWAS Parliament, empower the ECOWAS Commission to be more efficient where necessary, enhance the laws of the Community by possibly infusing strict sanction mechanisms thereunto and effectively capacitate even the National Parliaments and other relevant institutions as fundamental organs in the enforcement of laws and or dispensation of justice and integration in West Africa,” NANTS added.
It urged the Speaker to swim into action to review the laws establishing the ECOWAS Court of Justice, with a view to broadening its mandate and jurisdiction in line with other regional Courts such as the European Court .
NANTS also expects that the new ECOWAS Parliament would be very instrumental to driving the achievement of the ECOWAS Vision 2020 objectives, particularly of transforming ECOWAS from ‘an ECOWAS of States to an ECOWAS of people’.
“In this regard, we envisage that the Community Development Programme (CDP) would be institutionalised as a veritable instrument for realising the objectives of the Vision 2020 which is endorsed by the Authority of Heads of States and Governments of ECOWAS. This is essential given that the CDP seeks to anchor regional policies, programmes and plans shaped by the citizens themselves rather than erstwhile practice of approval of wholly-Consultant-drawn-policies and programmes,” NANTS said.
“Basically, the CDP seeks to rather institute a ‘bottom-up’ approach to policy making in the region as opposed to a ‘top-bottom’ approach. As representative of the community citizens, NANTS believes that the ECOWAS Parliament should play a more visible role in the entire transformation process.
“We would therefore cherish an opportunity to not just brief you in details on the CDP process but also explore options for the immediate involvement of the Parliament in the CDP process. Indeed, we wish to emphasise that NANTS believes that the ECOWAS Parliament is indispensable and crucial for the actualisation of the ECOWAS vision 2020,” NANTS stressed.