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ECO Brouhaha: “It is an issue of no return, we must do it”—SG

Controversy on the road map on a single currency for the West African States rages on between Francophone and Anglophone Finance States, as Anglophone Finance Minister and Central Bank Governors have already expressed their displeasure with the unilateral renaming of the CFA Franc as ECO this year.

Secretary General of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament, John Azumah has said the implementation of the ECG is an issue of no return, and must be done.

According to the SG, implementation of the Eco requires civil society, and all segments of the Community States. “It is either you go into the ditch or  you come out of it;   the only way to die is death”

Addressing journalists at the ongoing extraordinary meeting at the Gambia, he gave an overview of the achievements of the fourth legislature and admonished that Africa should stop blaming its woes on Europe and former colonial masters.

He was quick to point out that Africa’s colonial masters can work against Africa, with the view that, if Africa is successful they would go down. “They should leave us for us to go and die no problem”.

Mr. Azumah confirmed that the controversial single currency, ECO had been looked at by the Community Parliament, “politics of money, colonial ties and tradition die very hard if you are not careful and look at things critically can destroy the whole process”.

He further added that ECOWAS Parliament encouraged Heads of States and they took their views with the controversies, and believes the Heads of States are up to their task and would resolve the issue, as single currency is part of the integration process.

“Otherwise forget about it, we need to improve our trade relationship, and single currency issues should be resolved. We do not need a deadline of implementation, we would insist that the issue be resolved for Parliament to be able to play its role”.

And added that when the  issues are resolved there is a bigger chunk of work to be done as the ECOWAS Parliament, civil society, Journalists would have to explain and sensitize the Community citizens, the real people who are going to benefit.

“We have a big issue of first getting them to understand and accept the currency as to what we can gain out of the single currency”.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/ghanamps.com/Banjul

ECOWAS Parliament: SG walks lawmakers through activities of 4th legislature

Secretary General of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament, John Azumah at a seminar in the Gambia has walked lawmakers through the achievements and activities of the fourth legislature as its life span comes to an end on the 3rd of February 2020.

According to the SG, the fourth legislature was inaugurated in February 2016 for a four year term under Article 6 and 13 of the ECOWAS revised Treaty of 1993.

Since its establishment in 2000, the Community legislature has had four legislatures with a term of four years each in the exception of the first legislature that had a five year mandate.

Mr. Azumah in his presentation to the Community lawmakers noted that with the adoption of the Supplementary Act, in 2017, the House commenced implementation of Article 7 which enable it to adopt the Community budget and exercise Parliamentary oversight functions over activities of the Community programme implementing bodies.

Again the Community Parliament was able to conduct fact finding missions and engaged in some forms of Parliamentary Diplomacy and advocacy.

In addition, the SG noted that the previous Community Parliaments carried out their assigned roles effectively,  but unfortunately there was no real evaluation carried out to determine the impact they had on the Community programmes and the process of integration generally.

The last extraordinary section of the current Parliament would be held from Monday 27th to 31st January 2020, with thematic sessions, with resource persons.

Topics to be looked at would be techniques of conducting oversight in a Regional Parliament, role of the Parliament in implementing the protocols on Community levy, budget consideration and scrutiny in a Regional Parliament and assessment of the workings of a Regional Parliament.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/ghanamps.com/Banjul

ECOWAS Commission and Parliament shouldn’t be struggling for power— Barrow

Majority Leader and Leader of the Gambia delegation to ECOWAS Parliament,  Kebba Barrow in the wake of Community lawmakers crusading for Supplementary Act to be strengthened to make the Parliament more effective, said it is not in the interest of the ECOWAS Parliament and the Commission to be seen struggling for power and relevance.

According to the leader, both institutions should see themselves as colleagues in development and rather see what they can do through dialogue.

“Because the Commission is a technocrat and the Parliamentarians are technicians, MPs are able to talk to the people at the grass root level and we are able to get the message down at the right time to the people for them to understand the protocols and all that is being done at level of the Commission”.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/ghanamps.com/Banjul

ECOWAS MPs do not fear evaluation—Mao

A member of the Nigerian delegation to the fourth legislature of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS),  Moa A.  Ohuabunwa has said their criticism of the maiden edition of the mid-term evaluation should not be misconstrued as fear.

According to Mao, ECOWAS MPs do not fear evaluation and if there is any arm of government that appreciates evaluation it is the legislature as by their constitutional function they evaluate people with their oversight responsibility.

“We oversight government agencies, and in the sub-region evaluation should be the key critical ingredient to assess ourselves. You cannot shave me in my absence, you need my presence to shave me”.

He noted in an interview that mid-term evaluation presented in the Gambia was not properly done in the sense that you cannot evaluate the fourth legislature without talking to any MP.

“The consultant indicated at the initial stage he had challenges, time and financial constraints, we do not throw away the baby with the bath water, rather we should add value and ensure a comprehensive evaluation”.

Senator Mao noted that the evaluation and contributions shared would help strengthen the fifth legislature and would be reference material and would help the next Parliament to hit the ground running.

As to his assessment of the fourth legislature, he noted that there were good programmes but maybe the implementers were not well equipped to finish it.

“You can have a good programme on paper but for it to materialized, it depends on who is running the programme. Also  the fourth legislature has given the Parliament more visibility than it used to be, but there is more if those implementing were more prepared”.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/ghanamps.com

“ECOWAS MPs should be elected to the 6th legislature in 2025”—Kebba Barrow

As the fifth Parliament of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) kicks start first quarter of 2020, leader of the  Gambia delegation to the community Parliament and Majority Leader Kebba K.  Barrow has pointed out that with the debate around election of MPs,  the 6th legislature should start with election of Community Parliament in 2025.

“We need to have this done, as we are representing the entire electorate of our countries that would give us legitimacy to be able to do our work and cut down on interference to be able to fulfill our mandate”.

Mr. Barrow further pointed out in an interview that the initial plan was election of Community lawmakers and there is the need to take a second look at the process. Again, he called for resources to be made available for the election process in the fifteen member countries.

“For now, it is going to be difficult as re-composition of the fifth legislature has already been put in place and again the Parliamentary calendars are not the same in the sub-region, we need to come out with a frame work to enable it work”.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/ghanamps.com/Banjul

Speaker Cisse Lo should have been evaluated—Apekey

A member of the Togolese delegation to the ECOWAS Parliament, Assewouwkan Apekey has said with the mid-term evaluation report on the fourth legislature, Speaker Cisse Lo should have been evaluated as head of the institution.

According to Mr. Apekey the budget of the Community Parliament that the Speaker has touted all along that his hands are clean should have been evaluated, and was worried that nothing was said about it.

In an interview, he pointed out that the Gambia extraordinary meeting should have attracted donor funding but because he did not allow proper auditing, donor funding is not coming in.

“The Speaker cannot audit himself, we have a committee in Parliament that should look at the audit that was done but the Speaker said no, we cannot question it, it is not fair and I do not agree with the Speaker”.

He further pointed out that ECOWAS Parliament has a committee in charge of internal audit, the committee should have presented its report to the MPs to ask questions for clarifIcation; “but we were not allowed to ask questions, he lamented.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/ghanamps.com/Banjul

ECOWAS MPs criticize maiden evaluation, but SG calms nerves down

The West African sub-regional Community lawmakers meeting in the Gambia for the last extraordinary meeting and seminar for the life span of the fourth legislature on Friday 24th January 2020 criticize the maiden mid-term evaluation report of the fourth legislature.

Most prominent among the criticism was that MPs felt not a single member was contacted with the whole process that produce the report, whiles others were unhappy the Speaker Mustapha Cisse Lo was not evaluated.

Other MPs who happens to be consultants and have been involved in various research and evaluation works  for other organisations, expressed  dissatisfaction with the methodology technique used.

Mr. John Azumah, administrative head of the sub-regional Community Parliament clam down  the nerves of the MPs on the evaluation of the mid-term report, when he accepted that the administration is not oblivious of the inadequacy and weaknesses.

“It is a work in progress, we are thinking as your humble servants we should start from somewhere, as some of them will be sweet and bitter at end of the day, this should be able to inform the fifth legislature”.

He further pointed out to the lawmakers the views taken on the maiden mid-term report of the fourth legislature is to aid review and the strategic management of the Parliament.

Again, he added that going forward the whole Parliament would be involved and taken along for the benefit of the Community citizens. “We would improve upon what we have done”, he assured.

Mr. Azumah further revealed  that after the inauguration of the fifth legislature, there would be a section to build the capacity of lawmakers where stakeholders like the ECOWAS Commission and the AFC would be involved.

And emphasised the importance of knowing each other, MPs and those in the administration as just knowing directors make a lot of difference, he pointed out.

“Members with contributions and issues should make them available to the administration, the exercise is to reform the institution, your contributions are welcomed to plan for the fifth legislature”.

Mr. Urok Unah representing M&E Consultant who made the presentation in his response thanked the lawmakers for their feedback, and explained that the process of evaluation was not perfect as has been pointed out initially in his presentation that there were constraints.

“We have conducted this exercise within fifteen days, we have budgetary constrain, we know how to use methodology, we were not happy we could not speak to any MP, it would have been good to do that”.

He also pointed  out that the budgetary constrain does not pertain to only ECOWAS Parliament but all the Community institutions, and noted that “the report did not showcase the Parliament in a bad light, rather show case the achievements and more of the things that can be achieved going forward”.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/ghanamps.com

“There is more to be done to commensurate function of ECOWAS Parliament”—Speaker

Outgoing Speaker of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament, Mustapha Cisse Lo has said despite the Supplementary Act that enhances the powers of the legislature, there is still much to be done to ensure that the work of Parliament commensurate with its important function as the representative of the people of the Community.

According to the outgoing Speaker, there are challenges related to the implementation of the provision of the Supplementary Act on the strengthening powers of the Parliament, both in the adoption of the Community budget and in effective control functions, which should be met.

“Mr. President, the care of Members of Parliament must be properly reviewed and appropriately adjusted to correspond to the important role and functions played by Parliament, working environment for MPs logistical support, their movement and capacity building to carry out their functions more effectively”.

He was speaking at the opening ceremony of a three-day seminar in the Gambia, marking the last extraordinary meeting of the fourth Parliament of ECOWAS, with President Adama Barrow gracing the opening.

Also, he pointed out that he has visited by Heads of States from the West African Community states, to discuss the challenges in the implementation of the protocols and regulations relating to the implementation of the integration of people and states.

“We have on several occasions visited some countries borders to sensitize border officials on the full implementation of ECOWAS protocol and to prevent harassment of people and businesses crossing our borders”.

He further emphasised that ECOWAS is a community institution financed by community resources generated by taxes paid by the people of the community, and it is important the people know how their money is being spent and the performance of those representing them.

The objective of the seminar and special session in the Gambia is to access the performance of the Parliament for the past four years.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/ghanamps.com/Banjul

We can achieve a lot as ECOWAS than individual countries — Isatou Touray

Vice President of the Republic of the Gambia, Her Excellency Isatou Touray has said a lot can be achieved in the West African sub-region if the fifteen member countries of ECOWAS work together.

According to her, if countries work individually much cannot be achieved to move the West African sub-region forward.

She made this remark when the Gambian Government hosted a dinner for lawmakers of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament, on Thursday evening after the opening of a three-day seminar to take stock of the fourth legislature.

“I am happy that you are discussing the challenges and prospect of the fourth legislature, we know the many benefits that come with working together, it helps shape our collective future”.

And recounted that the political impasse of the Gambia should be an example of what is possible and further thanked the leadership of ECOWAS Parliament for their exceptional leadership.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/ghanamps.com/Banjul

“Consolidate achievements through envisaged elections in 2020”- Jean-Claude

President of the ECOWAS Commission, H. E Jean-Claude Kassi Brou has said the achievements of the sub-regional community bloc can be consolidated with the upcoming elections this year.
According to him, the sub-region has demonstrated strong commitment to addressing issues relating to security and stability challenges affecting it by applying existing political and legal measures to mediate conflicts and restore democratic governance in the region.
“The role of the Economic Community of West African States Parliament in this regard is highly regarded and acknowledged”, he stated.

ECOWAS Commissioner for Social Affairs, Dr. Siga Fatima Japne who represented the President at the opening of a three-day seminar of the Community Parliament in the Gambia made these remarks.

She, however, noted that the sub-region is increasingly exposed to security threats ranging from arms trafficking, money laundering, human trafficking, and terrorist financing among others.
And added that the Commission alone cannot address the complex problem of the region; it would need to have collaboration and enhance synergy with ECOWAS Parliament to deliver the dividend of regional agenda through social inclusion.

Again, she pointed out that the sub-region is not all about challenges, as it is blessed with natural resources and bountiful youthful energy.

“We have to leverage on opportunities created in the new decade by adopting the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), through the promotion and strengthening of the Free Movement, with ECOWAS single currency programme”.

Dr. Siga, in addition, emphasised the need to focus on breaking the cycle of poverty by providing decent work, education for all and basic nutrition and social protection for the weak and vulnerable.

“The answer in our security problems can be found in bridging the gap of inequality and enhancing social protection for all. There is a lot of work to be done and I invite you to focus your priorities to include these areas”.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com