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Election of ECOWAS MPs: Financing is a major challenge but---Humado

Ghanas Representative on the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament Ad-Hoc Committee, Clement Kofi Humado said in drawing a road map to ensure direct elections of lawmakers, the Committee has identified financing as a  major challenge to get the programme implemented. 

According to him at the end of a five days meeting in Lagos, Nigeria on December 8 to 12, 2020, there was a general consensus to work harder and do everything possible to enable universal adult suffrage by the close of the life span of the fifth Legislature.
First Deputy Speaker of the fifth sub-regional Community Parliament and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representative of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Ahmad Wase is the chairman of the Committee, made up of a representative of each of the fifteen member states.
Speaker of the Community Parliament, Rt Honorable Sidie Mohammed Tunis at his inauguration in Niger earlier this year,  pledged to ensure that election of Community lawmakers forms part of his agenda under his tenure.

In an interview with the Anlo lawmaker, he pointed out that in the Committees deliberation  at  Lagos,  it came out clearly that the Parliament was prepared to initially scarifies, so that   the initial budgetary allocation earmarked for it can be used to kick start the process.  

In addition, he revealed that the  cost of the election in the various member states would be the responsibility of the fifteen sovereign  member states. However,  guidelines for the election and eligibility criteria would be the responsibility of ECOWAS.

Also the Ad-Hoc Committee would draft guidelines of electoral code and code of good conduct. "we do not want money laundering as source of financing the elections and how to account for the money for the purposes of tax and draft of our work would be  brought to the plenary for approval and forwarded to the Commission", he added.  

When questioned on the issue of seeming  power struggle between the Legislature and the Commission, because the Legislature does not have its full  power to legislate,  despite the enhancement powers and how to get the Authority of Heads of States and Government to buy into the idea, Mr. Kofi Humado revealed that the issue came up in their deliberations and they were looking at getting either a former Head of State or a current one to champion that cause at the level of Heads of States. It came out clearly that Niger's President should lead this crusade among his colleagues but has not been formalized yet.

And further noted that they believed H. E. President Mahamadou Issoufou understands the issues very well and would be able to influence his colleagues on the need for direct elections of Community lawmakers.  

Furthermore, the Committee also proposed Civil Society Organisations (CSOs)  within the sub-region buying into the whole idea so that they can take up the advocacy work at the sub-regional level. 

We need to disabuse the minds of Heads of States that   it is going to be additional money, as we all know the poor financing states of ECOWAS, and we suspect that, that is the argument they are going to raise.

Again, initially Community lawmakers who would initially be elected would not stay in Abuja permanently so the issue of housing and rent payment would not come in. He noted that it would be like it is currently, where lawmakers are paid allowance for their hotel they work and get back to their home country.

What people do not know is that part of the work that should be done by the ECOWAS Parliament, is being done by the Commission; drafting of model laws, they would bring things from the Commission you look at it and endorse. Again monies are being spent to recruit people to work on drafting; rather those funds should be given to the Parliament to do that job because it is the job of Parliament and not the Commission.  

And we do not think initially it would cost us that much as we look into all aspects of the universal adult suffrage within the prevailing budget, he said.
Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/

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