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Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)

Task Before ECOWAS’ 6th Legislature



The sixth Legislature of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS Parliament) was recently inaugurated in Abuja. The mood at the event indicates that the regional law-making body is poised to chart a new agenda for the bloc in the next four years. This optimism derives from ongoing efforts to promote regional integration. However, the task before the new Parliament is believed to be enormous as a result of heightened expectation from citizens of member nations.

The ECOWAS Parliament, also known as the Community Parliament, is one of the institutions that make up the regional body. It is the assembly of peoples of the community serving as a forum for dialogue, consultation and consensus for representatives of the people of West Africa with the aim of promoting integration.

President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in his capacity as the chairman of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS, administered the oath of office to the new members of parliament in accordance with Article 28 of the Supplementary Act on the Enhancement of Powers of the regional legislature.

However, the parliament was unable to elect a substantive Speaker following the inability of Togo to produce a candidate as the leader of the Parliament due to the political situation in the country. This caused the Parliament to invoke the “Doctrine of Necessity” to elect other principal officers pending when the Speaker emerges from Togo. The Deputy President of the Nigerian Senate, Jibrin Barau, was elected 1st Deputy Speaker of the Parliament.  Also elected as Second Deputy Speaker was Adjaratou Traore Coulibally from Cote d’Ivoire. Alexander Kwamena Afenyo- Markin of Ghana emerged as the third speaker and Billay Tunkara from The Gambia the fourth Deputy Speaker.


In his post-election speech, Senator Barau, who is also the acting speaker of the parliament, pointed out that the responsibilities before the parliamentarians were indeed daunting especially with the re-emergence of the military in the political landscape of the sub-region. He, therefore, urged his colleagues to remain totally faithful to their commitments of building a resilient body.

Recently, the regional body was confronted with challenges which threatened its cohesion. For instance, in January this year, three of its members, Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger announced their decision to quit the community. This was due to disagreements with ECOWAS over military coups in the three countries.

Even more worrisome is the pervasive state of insecurity, deplorable poverty, low investment and poor infrastructure that has continued to hang over the regional body like the proverbial Sword of Damocles. Sadly, in our view, youth unemployment is leading many young people into crime and other forms of anti-social bahaviour. Partly on the basis of this situation, the new parliament is expected to work assiduously to strengthen the institution through the enhancement of its powers with regard to the flexibility to perform legislative duties just like the European Parliament.

As a newspaper, we urge the new parliament to work collaboratively and with diligence, rigour, and determination so as to be able to overcome the challenges that lie ahead, especially in bringing the three estranged countries back to the bloc.

We recall that in a previous editorial, we had expressed concerns over the decision of the three countries to pull out of the bloc just as we warned against the consequences of the decision on the bloc and the threat it poses to citizens of the three countries.


It is from this perspective that we are compelled to admonish the sixth session of the legislature to explore the possibility of reconciliation and mediation as ways of resolving any issues that exists or may arise. It is heartwarming that the regional bloc saw the sense in lifting the sanctions imposed on the three countries. The lawmakers must work with the ECOWAS Commission to find lasting solutions to the myriad of other crises ravaging the region.

In the meantime, the new Legislature appears to have shown purpose and direction from the stated objectives of the new leaders. They have also displayed passion to initiate legislative processes and mechanisms that will reshape the political and economic situation and boost the integration process in the region.

It is pertinent to note that the regional lawmaking body, although limited in its scope of lawmaking, ought to find ways of strengthening democracy in the region not only through periodic elections but by transparency and accountability in governance in member countries. We cannot over-emphasize this as a way of realizing the ECOWAS Vision 2050, which requires involvement of the people in the decision-making process.

It is also cogent for the parliament to work towards realizing the much- touted direct election into the regional legislature. This much was emphasized by President Tinubu during his speech at the inaugural session.




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