By Alex Enumah in Abuja
When delegates of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament reconvene in January 2017, one major item that would top agenda of the legislators is the issue of security challenges; which is prevalent in almost all member state and has capability of hindering both the economic development and full integration of the community.
Also, Nigeria has expressed interest to push for a proper implementation of the Economic Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS) with the aim of discouraging alleged sharp practices of some member states.
President of the ECOWAS Parliament, Moustapha Cissé Lo, disclosed this to newsmen Thursday night, at the end of the parliament’s Second Ordinary Session in Abuja.
According to the president, the parliament had played its role in making recommendations to address security challenges that plagued the sub-region, adding, “We have decided to meet in January to brainstorm on security issues in our communities and find out what agenda to put in place to ring the bell harder in the ears of our executives and Heads of State. We can take our recommendations to the Heads of State and Government for everyone to participate in the realities of our region”.
Representative of the Malian delegation, Mr. Yaya Sangaré, called on ECOWAS to take ownership of the peace process in Mali and urged the bloc to form a Community Defence Force to take over the leadership of security in that country. Nigeria however commended the Joint Military Task Force in the Lake Chad Basin Region which she said had helped in checking the activities of Boko Haram in the area.
Sangare said, “more than 350 people were killed in terrorist attacks in Mali from January to August this year; several parties violated peace agreements. Those violating the peace are from neighbouring countries.
“ECOWAS should assume leadership so that the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali will go and hunt down the enemies of peace than serve as interposition.”
Nigeria’s representative, Hon. Lynda Chuba-Okadigbo, while noting that the collaboration in the Lake Chad Basin had yielded fruitful results, however called on the community to address the malpractices of some countries in the implementation of the ELTS. She decried a situation where some countries go outside ECOWAS and bring goods claiming it was ECOWAS.
“In the spirit of integration, we would see how to make the scheme work in a friendly way. Nigeria has ratified about 75% of the ECOWAS Protocol, the remaining have been sent to the National Assembly for ratification”, she said.
Earlier, the president said the parliament agreed to further sensitise governments of member states on the need for the implementation of the community protocols, so that the aims of setting up the union would not be defeated.
Cisse Lo, while urging the media to project the efforts being made toward integration and development in the sub-region said, “we will try to improve communications, and what we can do is to make visible our performance through you (the media) so you can assist us to do our work well.”
The Second Ordinary Session of the parliament adopted the various committee reports and the roadmap for the Draft Supplementary Act on the Enhancement of Powers of ECOWAS Parliament.
The parliament agreed to forward the document to the Heads of State and Government for adoption in December.
At the news conference, also attended by heads of delegates of the
15 member states in the parliament attended the news conference.