Acting Speaker Barau Calls for Enhanced Collaboration in Addressing Regional Cross-Cutting Issues


By: Kebba AF Touray

The Acting Speaker of the Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS Parliament), Hon. BarauJibrin, has called for enhanced collaboration between community institutions, to address cross-cutting issues.

Acting Speaker Barau made this call on Tuesday 21st May 2024 at the opening of the second extraordinary session of the community parliament, currently underway in Kano State, Nigeria.

The extraordinary Session is unique on several counts, as regional representatives will be dilating on and adopting three very important instruments that bear heavily on the progress and effective implementation of their mandate. 

These instruments are the Rules of Procedure of the Sixth Legislature, which was deferred from the inaugural session, the Strategic Plan of the Sixth Legislature, and the Work Plan of the year 2024.

The Rules of Procedure are very important as they make the parliamentarians more efficient and serve as their guide, thereby reducing the chances of their actions and decisions being challenged for procedural deficiencies. 

The Strategic Plan, on the other hand, will serve as a crucial and indispensable tool in ensuring that the programs and activities of the Sixth Legislatures are directly linked with the overall strategic institutional objectives of ECOWAS, while their Work Plan will set the agenda for their engagements this year. 

Furthermore, the session will provide an opportunity for them to deliberate and provide fresh perspectives on pressing issues in the ECOWAS Region and proffer recommendations on how peace, security, and stability can be attained. 

Delivering his address at the onset of the session, the Acting Speaker said that as the Parliament looks towards facilitating the promotion of democracy, checks and balances, as well as accountability in the ECOWAS Community, having a strong ECOWAS Parliament is indispensable. 

“I have had the esteemed honor of leading this Parliament for barely two months and I have concluded that much needs to be done in terms of asserting the independence of the Parliament in the exercise of its important roles of parliamentary oversight and representation,” he said. 

He hammered home that there is, also, a compelling need to build strong collaboration with the ECOWAS Commission and undertake joint initiatives aimed at strengthening regional security and advancing development.

He underscored “While it is true that each institution has its unique prerogatives, the fact remains that there exist cross-cutting issues that are best addressed with enhanced collaboration between the community institutions”. 

He reminded the Sixth Legislature that in his address at the Inaugural Session, the President of the ECOWAS Commission made the clarion call for Parliament’s urgent intervention in addressing pressing issues in the Community.

The President of the ECOWAS Commission, he said has noted the urgency of joining ongoing efforts aimed at avoiding the disintegration of the regional bloc, which could happen with the departure of Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. 

He said, “He (President of ECOWAS Commission), also, emphasized the need to confront non-state groups that are competing for control of our resources and pushing states to the margins”.

He highlighted that these have led to unprecedented levels of insecurity, especially in the Sahel where armed groups, violent extremists, and criminal groups are operating and causing immense suffering for our citizens. 

He challenged ,“We must heed to that call with all seriousness and be intentional about playing our roles for the millions of citizens being impacted by these conflicts. 

He said that against this backdrop, he will, in consultation with his colleagues in the Bureau, be proposing the appointment of an Ad hoc Mediation Committee.

The mandate of the proposed mediation committee will be to work with all stakeholders in getting ‘our brothers to rescind their decision and come home and work towards promoting dialogue to resolve conflicts in the region’. 

He said there’s no doubt that they are stronger together and there is no alternative to their collective aspirations of a united, peaceful, and secure ECOWAS. 

Acting Speaker Barau informed the Sixth Legislature of the ECOWAS Parliament that a Parliamentary Fact-finding mission was dispatched to the Republic of Togo. 

The delegation he conveyed ascertained circumstances surrounding the notable absence of the Togolese delegation, who, by the Supplementary Act on the Enhancement of the Powers of the Parliament, deserves the Speakership, and held discussions with national stakeholders on other political issues.

“I am pleased to report that we received a very favorable response from the Togolese authorities that our brothers from Togo will be inaugurated as soon as possible,” said Speaker BarauJibrin. 

He reported that the regional lawmakers continue to build strong collaboration with Community Institutions and Regional Parliaments to promote synergy for the realization of shared goals. 

He reported that within a short period, the ECOWAS Parliament participated in the Civil Society consultation on the legal and policy Framework of the Draft Model Law on Gender Equality and Equity hosted by the Pan African Parliament, the Third Parliamentary Policy Dialogue on the Protection of Vulnerable Targets against terrorism, which was hosted by the United Nations Office on Counter-Terrorism.

The regional legislature he outlined also participated in a capacity-building training on Labor Migration Governance under the auspices of the African Union Commission and the International Conference on enhancing the role, relevance, and effectiveness of the ECOWAS Court of Justice, through the strengthening of synergies between the Court and national stakeholders, which was hosted by their sister Institution the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice. 

He added, “Additionally, members of the ECOWAS Female Parliamentarian Association were invited by the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies to share experience with the National Assembly of Nigeria on the modalities in establishing a multi-party women’s caucus in the Nigerian National Assembly”.