Members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament on Monday 29th March 2021 commenced the First Extraordinary Session for the year 2021 with a special focus on adopting the Community Parliament’s draft strategic plan.
The Session in Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown, commenced with an official opening ceremony that saw the airing of the ECOWAS anthem, observing a minute of silent prayer or meditation, roll Call of MPs, swearing-in of new Parliamentarians from Nigeria and Ghana excluding those from Mali and a series of solidarity messages from the President of the ECOWAS Commission Jean –Claude Kassi Brou, the President of the National Transitional Council of the Republic of Mali, the Honorable Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Guinea and opening ceremony address by the President of Sierra Leone, His Excellency Dr. Julius Maada Bio.
In his speech, the Right Honorable Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, His Excellency Hon. Sidie Mohamed Tunis said that he is overwhelmed with joy and felt extremely glad, a little over one year since he assumed leadership of the Community Parliament as Speaker of the Fifth Legislature.
On the crux of the deliberation, H.E Hon. Tunis said: “The cardinal purpose for which this Session is holding is to present and adopt a Strategic Plan for the Fifth Legislature (2020-2024) of the ECOWAS Parliament.”
He said the plan, which has been drafted by the Administration of the Community Parliament under the supervision of the outstanding Secretary-General, “ is guided by the provisions of the Community Strategic Framework and the ECOWAS Vision.”
“The Strategic Plan identifies program areas with themes and priority areas that would systematically assist the Parliament in executing its mandate, as defined by the Supplementary Act,” H.E. Hon. Tunis said.
The Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament however noted that: “The Strategic Plan will provide direction in decision-making and allocation of resources to enable Parliament to attain its goals.”
“It will provide guidance on the efficient and effective utilization of scarce resources. In addition, it will serve as the basis for Monitoring and Evaluating the performance of Parliament during the tenure of the current Legislature. It is our sincere hope that the plan will serve as a springboard to launch a new revolution that brings the Community Parliament closer to the people,” the ECOWAS Speaker. H.E. Hon. Tunis highlighted.
H.E. Hon Tunis twenty points speech also thanked President Maada Bio of Sierra Leone, other Speakers of Parliament and MPs, underscored the need for compliance to COVID-19 protocols, stressed the need to tackle pressing challenges, appreciation of the ECOWAS Commission, felicitations to the President-elect of Niger, Mohamed Bazoum, politics and electoral outcomes in five presidential elections in 2020, peace in Mali, COVID-19 vaccination and the economic impact of COVID-19, his achievements and engagements among many other things.
In his opening ceremony address, His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone paid tribute to victims of the COVID-19 pandemic in West Africa. He welcomed the dignitaries to the occasion noting that Sierra Leone is a peaceful country. “It is an honor to host you here with us,” President Bio said, adding that “we thanked the ECOWAS for choosing Sierra Leone.”
President Bio explained that the subregion has kept the level of fatalities from COVID-19 relatively low but urged for equity in the distribution of vaccines, calling on Members of the Community to rebuild their economies, especially in the post-COVID-19 era. He praised the ECOWAS Parliament’s idea of delocalize meetings noting that with many meetings, “ regular interactions will foster goodwill. President Bio however appealed for an evenhanded approach in resolving conflicts while praised the ECOWAS Commission for the commencement of phase two of the Lungi Logistics Depot in Sierra Leone. He also said that a strategic plan will be innovative and also voiced support for the need for universal adult suffrage in electing Members of the Community Parliament. He appealed for investment in people to address the youth crisis in the sub-region while promoting a borderless region.
President Bio nonetheless, thanked and welcomed all participants, wishing them an enlightened deliberation.
The Session continues and it is slated to end on the 2nd April 2021, in Freetown.
Source: Ghana news online