Hon Fatoumata Njai
June 27, 2022
Speaker ECOWAS Parliament

A member of the Gambian delegation to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament, Fatoumata Njai has said the crusade to directly elect lawmakers to the Parliament directly is wishful thinking, “my view”.

According to her she always laugh when the issue of directly electing MPs comes up when questioned by Ecowasnews.com, when asked if MPs are elected the dynamics would change, “we are elected from our various countries, we come here as elected members by extension I do not believe it would be easy to directly elect MPs to come and represent us at the ECOWAS Parliament”.

Again, she pointed out that as a sub-region, we have different forms of elections and gave an example the way MPs are elected in Senegal is different from the Gambia her country. In her country, you present yourself, “in Senegal you present a list, so how are we going to have a uniform form of election to be able to represent us in the Parliament?”

“We look at the EU Parliament, is different because they have structures and strong electoral laws, but in our part of the world it’s your pocket which determines whether you get elected; the one with the heaviest pocket. I do not see it coming, in fact I would not even support. We were elected through our national Assemblies”.

She further vehemently kicked against monetization of politics within the West Africa sub-region.

On the issue of divided attention and allegiance, as some of the problems confronting the current parliament; she noted that it has to do with the individuals. For example, their sessions are quarterly in the Gambia and in some Parliaments they seat daily so if they should come they would have decided attention, “yet that does not call for us to be directly elected because what we decide here should be taken back to our home Assemblies to be acted on”.

She is of a firm believe and still against MPs being elected directly by the people because, they are already the ones who  elect us in our Parliaments’, it would be more expensive for any one because you have to be based in Abuja, you would lose touch in your home country”.

Also, you would not be a local politician, you would be a regional politician, you would be based here in Abuja-Nigeria, you would still have divided attention going and coming to your country. “We are connected in our communities”.

“I do not see it coming, we are already half way into this Legislature, I would not blame it on COVID-19 because even that era business was going on; we have resumed a year ago, I believe that with every leadership comes a theme; I believe a theme should be genuine from the heart and realistic and measurable, when we do something it should be smart”.

Madam Njai noted that instead of directly electing ECOWAS MP, the focus should rather be on strengthening democracy and making sure that enacted laws by the parliament are adopted in the sub-region.

“We look at the East Africa Legislature, African Parliament, they make laws and when those laws are made in their regional Parliament, they are implemented in their home countries; that should have been more realistic. Let us work on term limit within our region. That would have been more realistic than saying we are going to be elected directly, who is going to organise those elections, its wishful thinking”.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com /Abuja-Nigeria