New ECOWAS Speaker Says Region Marred by Coup Resurgence

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By: Kebba AF Touray

The newly sworn in Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Hon. Memounatou Ibrahima, has said coup resurgences in the region are the most serious crises that still bedevil the ECOWAS Region. 

Hon. Ibrahima said the above statement while delivering her maiden speech in Nigerian State of Kano on Friday, 24 May 2024, at the climax of the second extraordinary session of the ECOWAS Parliament. 

She said despite the tremendous work of ‘our’ predecessors and the enormous contributions of the Regional Parliament to the development of our populations, the region is still bedeviled with numerous political, economic, and security crises in several Member States of the Community.

“The most serious of these crises include the resurgence of coups, tensions resulting from peoples’ desire for self-determination, high unemployment among West African youth, climate change, and the resurgence of terrorist attacks in Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso,” she said. 

She added this has prompted the adoption in 2020 of ECOWAS’ Vision 2050 by the Authority of Heads of States and Governments.

The vision she outlined requires the Region to focus on efforts on pillars such as peace, security and stability, good governance and rule of law, economic integration and interconnectivity, transformation, inclusive and sustainable development, and social inclusion.

“These are the pillars that inspired the development of the 2024-2028 strategic plan and the 2024 activity plan of the ECOWAS Parliament, that we have validated,” she said.

She challenged the Sixth Legislature to shoulder the weighty responsibility by remaining faithfully to their commitments by working together with wisdom, rigor, and determination, to meet the major challenges that lie ahead of them. She said the first challenge is to continue to improve the image and functioning of the ECOWAS Parliament to make it a respected and admired institution. She challenged that this must succeed in inspiring respect, consideration, and admiration through their individual and collective dedication, and the quality and relevance of their work and resolutions. 

‘‘With this in mind, we will be considering the possibility of putting together and implementing a code of ethics and good conduct within Parliament, because the people in the region, want to be proud of their parliament whose members must demonstrate diligence, efficiency, objectivity and accountability,’’ Speaker Ibrahima said.

Additionally, she said the parliamentarians also need to strengthen relationships with their national parliaments to consolidate the basis for collaboration and fostering synergy in their initiatives, actions, and programs. 

“To achieve this, we intend to rotate our activities, and to bring together Members of the ECOWAS Parliament and those of national parliaments,” She said.

In the same vein, the new Speaker said the Sixth Legislature will strive under the provisions of the Rule of Procedure to be highly creative to achieve concrete results by giving priority to sessions dedicated to oral and written questions on the major concerns of their populations.

“Similarly, the Parliament will take initiatives to enhance the skills of women and the youth, and to maintain and promote a good environment of emulation among these social strata,” She said; adding that this will help combat the radicalisation of young people, reduce the number of victims of illegal immigration, and make ECOWAS Parliament more visible and appreciated by the local population.

At the international level, she said the ECOWAS Parliament’s activities will be pursued and intensified to enhance its reputation, accelerate regional integration, and contribute to peace on the continent and in the world. 

She asserted that it is one thing to successfully accomplish one’s mission, but another to make it known and, above all, to make the outcome available to the beneficiaries. She interpreted this to mean that the Legislature will have to put in place effective communication policies and strategies that will enable it to lend a listening ear to the people on a permanent basis, and to better disseminate Community Acts adopted by the Regional Parliament.  

The new Speaker said for this reason, national delegations will be called upon to lead feedback sessions on the work of the ECOWAS Parliament in their national parliaments, and said “we will also strengthen our partnership with media professionals in Member States, and will consider organising interactive activities between Members of the ECOWAS Parliament and the populations of member countries.” 

She urged the Sixth ECOWAS Parliament to join forces beyond their differences to remain faithful to their commitments and to make the ECOWAS Legislature indelibly etched in history.

Speaker Ibrahima also challenged the Regional legislative body to resolutely get to work to produce concrete and useful results for ECOWAS, and told members that their passion, dedication and commitment to achieving the objectives of Parliament will enable them make the Region an ECOWAS of peoples where peace, security and prosperity will prevail for all.