The Deputy Senate President and Speaker of Economic Community of West African States’ legislature (ECOWAS Parliament), Senator Ike Ekweremadu, yesterday described non-availability of a proper legislative arm as a huge setback for ECOWAS at 40.
Ekweremadu, who stated this at the closing of 2015 First Ordinary Session of ECOWAS Parliament in Abuja, said the development was saddening.
“It is sad to note that 40 years after its establishment, ECOWAS cannot boast of a regional parliament in true sense of a parliament,” he said.
According to him, since its inauguration 15 years ago, ECOWAS Parliament has remained a sheer talk shop and a resource drain because it has failed to perform any legislative function.
He said the New Article 13 of the Supplementary Protocol amending the 1994 protocol on the parliament provides for progressive upliftment of ECOWAS parliament from advisory to co-decision making and subsequently a law making body, which he said had remained the same since it was inaugurated.
Ekweremadu also said the relevant ECOWAS bodies such as the Body of Attorneys-General of the sub-region, Administration and Finance Committee and ECOWAS Council of Ministers had all considered the Supplementary Act on the enhancement of the powers of the ECOWAS Parliament as he affirmed its legal sufficiency, financial propriety and recommended it to the Authority of Heads of State for assent.
He said even though the Authority adopted the Act as its 46th Ordinary Session in Abuja in December 2014, it was regrettably not signed at its recent 47th Ordinary Session in Accra as a result of the opposition mounted by Senegal and Cote’divoire.
He described the development as a huge setback.
He said: “It is so disappointing because when we did it with the best of intentions to advance the cause of democracy in the sub-region. Today, ECOWAS Parliament is the only parliament anywhere in the world that doesn’t perform legislative functions. We consider that we come here twice in a year to just talk without achieving anything; without adding value to governance in the sub-region and yet we are paid, so for us, it is not proper.
“If the ECOWAS authorities believe that the ECOWAS Parliament does not need to have powers, of course, it doesn’t need to exist in the first place. You can’t have a parliament that does not perform parliamentary functions. So, we urge the Authority of Heads of States to reconsider their stand and please sign the Supplementary Act so that we can have a functional and productive sub-regional parliament.”
Source: This Day