ECOWAS: Present Political Situation in W’Africa Shouldn’t Be Judging Yardstick

•Laments low trade volume among member states

*Parliament members should be elected not selected, says Odebiyi

Michael Olugbode in Abuja

President of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission, Dr. Alieu Touray, has decried the fact that the current political situations within the subregion had overshadowed the efforts of the regional bloc at addressing the needs of citizens of the community.

He, however, lamented the low trade volume amongst member states, which hovered in the region of 12%.

Touray also said the trade volume within the larger African continent was not also impressive as it stood under 20%.

Speaking at the maiden briefing on the activities of the sub-regional body yesterday in Abuja, Touray said, “There is so much more that ECOWAS is engaged in, as ECOWAS is present in virtually all facets of human development in the region, planning and providing for the contemporary needs of the community.

“Unfortunately, these laudable strides in the region’s relentless march towards an economic union have been overshadowed by contemporary political developments.”

He said with the strategies and policies in place to encourage trading and movement of goods and people within the subregion, it was disheartening that trade amongst member states was abysmally low.

“At the moment, our intra community trade stands around 12%. On the whole in Africa, intra continental trade is under 20% which is extremely low.

“If you look at developed countries, countries that are sufficiently integrated or regions that are sufficiently reintegrated, intra continental  trade alone is around 60 to 70%.

“So we have a long way to go. Very long way to go and this is why it is important that we open our markets for our own produce, our own manufactured items.”

He also stressed the need to have sufficient local content on production within the sub-region.

Meanwhile, former Senator Tolu Odebiyi, from Ogun West, as advised that members of the ECOWAS Parliament should emerge through election conducted directly for such purpose other than being selected from member states Assemblies,

Odebiyi, who is also a Member of ECOWAS Parliament, gave the advice in a chat with journalists in Abuja shortly after he returned from Freetown, Sierra Leone, where he had attended the 2024 Extra-Ordinary Session of the Parliament.

He said there was an urgent need for ECOWAS Parliament to have its members elected directly through universal adult suffrage, as against the current practice of nominating the members through the existing national parliaments of Member States.

He contended that direct elections into the Parliament would ensure the autonomy and independence of the regional parliament in line with the provisions of the 2016 Supplementary Act Relating to the Enhancement of the Powers of the ECOWAS Parliament.

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