By Teddy Nwanunobi
Abuja (Sundiata Post) — Senate, on Wednesday, commended the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for enhancing the powers of the ECOWAS Parliament.
The Upper Chamber also resolved to congratulate the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, as well as the ECOWAS Parliament on the milestone.
It also pressed for the amendment of the Electoral Act to empower the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to eventually conduct election to fill Nigerian’s 35 seats at the Community Parliament.
The above resolutions were sequel to a motion sponsored by the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, in the plenary on Wednesday.
Moving the motion, former Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament, Ekweremadu, recalled that although the Parliament was established in the year 2000 sequel to the Article 13 of the 1993 Revised Treaty of ECOWAS, and ECOWAS Protocol A/P2/8/94 of 1994, the Parliament had existed only as a mere advisory body.
He further recalled that while previous efforts to enhance the powers of the Community Parliament had failed, the 3rd Legislature of the Parliament, which he headed as the Speaker, championed a robust advocacy for the actualisation of the project, “including coming up with a Draft Supplementary Act on the Enhancement of the Powers of the Community Parliament to bring the institution to the international best standards”.
The Deputy Senate President, however, regretted that despite the adoption of the Supplementary Act by the 46th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of the State and Government in Abuja in December 2014, the 47th Ordinary Session of the Authority had failed to sign, to bring it into force in Accra in May 2015, before the expiration of the 3rd Legislature.
He, therefore, commended the 4th Legislature of the ECOWAS Parliament for continuing with the relentless efforts (take this out towards) to enhance the powers of the Parliament, and described as a thing of “immense joy” to the peoples of West Africa, the “eventual endorsement of the ECOWAS Supplementary Act A/SA/1/12/16 by the 50th Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government in Abuja in December 2016”.
On the implications of the enhanced powers of the institution, he said the Supplementary Act now bestows on the Community Parliament enhanced competencies, (take out namely) such as involvement in the enactment of all Community Acts, adoption of the Community Budget, and powers of oversight function.
Ekweremadu called on the Senate to note in particular the provision for the election of Community Parliamentarians by direct adult suffrage by Article 18 of the Supplementary Act provides, a situation, he said, called for the amendment of the Electoral Act of Nigeria to empower the INEC to conduct the election of the Nigeria Country Delegation into the Parliament when that Article comes into effect.
Summing up the debate on the motion, which was was seconded by the Deputy Leader of the Senate, Ibn N’Allah (Kebbi South), the Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, described the enhancement of powers of the Parliament as historic and very commendable.
“We want to thank all those that worked towards it, especially our own Deputy President of the Senate and the leadership of the ECOWAS Parliament.
“This is something we should all be proud of. It is a victory, not only for the legislative democracy, but I think the coming together of the ECOWAS body to a more people-oriented and focused assembly. We charge the regional body to take advantage of this to ensure that they continue to work for the actualisation of regional integration,” he added.