ECOWAS PARLIAMENT INTENSIFIES QUEST FOR LEGISLATIVE POWERS
The Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament has intensified its quest for real legislative powers as it pledged to engage stakeholders in the sub-regional bloc.
The Parliament plays an advisory and consultative role to the increasing discontent of its members.
In his address at the end of the 1st Extra-Ordinary Session of the Third Legislature of the ECOWAS Parliament held over the weekend in Abuja, the Speaker of the Parliament and Deputy President of Nigeria's Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, said that following the adoption of the recommendations of the ad hoc committee on the Enhancement of the Powers of the Parliament, the stage is now set for intensive lobbying by the supra-national parliament to convince stakeholders especially the Heads of States and Governments to let the body have legislative powers.
Analysts say that the ECOWAS Parliament is just a talk shop with the ECOWAS Commission left unchecked by anybody or institution.
While receiving the committee's report, Ekweremadu said that the Parliamentarians have braced themselves to take their 'proper and pride of place in the scheme of things in the West African sub-region.'
He pointed out that it is the burden of the regional parliament to initiate and sustain 'advocacy at all levels to engender a buy-in by the decision-making bodies of ECOWAS and various member states, especially the Council of Ministers, our Heads of State and Government, respected elder statesmen as well as the National Parliaments of our Member States.
'The understanding of the leaderships of our various National Parliaments is critical at this point.
'We must each see ourselves as ambassadors for the enhancement of the powers of the Parliament.
'Therefore, I expect that Honourable Members of the ECOWAS Parliament should be able to hold the fort for us in their respective countries. But importantly, this makes the proposed conference of Presiding Officers of ECOWAS National Parliaments most auspicious.
The Bureau of Parliament is hoping to host the conference in September, but a suitable date will be arrived at after due consultation with the Secretary-General. The Bureau of Parliament will also set up an Advocacy Group which will swing into action in earnest to ensure that this quest is realised. I, therefore, passionately enjoin members of the media to also lend us a hand of fellowship towards the realisation of this noble, legitimate, and people-oriented dream.'
Also, he called on member states to harmonise laws on child labour and trafficking in order to effectively coordinate the fight against the worsening scourge.