Rt. Hon Speaker Tunis left and chairman of Political Affairs right
June 6, 2022

Electing Community Parliament lawmakers is going to benefit the West African sub-region and not the current Speaker Dr. Sidie Mohamed Tunis whose flagship programme it is, Senator Edwin Melvin Junior has said.

According to him the current system of various National Assemblies approving delegations to the Community Parliament made their first loyalty to their National Assemblies.

He cited an example by saying as chairman of a very strategic Committee of Senate in his home country Liberia, Public Works and Infrastructure Development, if there is a Committee hearing in his parliament, “I want to stay at home, my first responsibility is to my colleagues back home, we need work on this programme you have a choice to make”.

ECOWAS Parliament delegation in Niger

He gave an example of Ghana and pointed out that its lawmakers are one of the productive members of the Community Parliament but when the issues of the passage of their Electronic Transfer Bill (E-Levy) came, MPs from Ghana could not come to the second Ordinary Session of 2021, their loyalty was to their party and Parliament they remain in Ghana.

“They needed numbers to deal with the E-Levy, so E-Levy had an impact on the Community Parliament. Again we were unable to have the Ordinary Session two weeks ago in Abuja. We had a situation where all the major political parties were going for their primaries and the political situation in Nigeria did not allow us to go there at the time we decided”.

Rt. Hon Speaker left Chairman of ECOWAS right

Chairman of the Political Affairs, Peace, Security and African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), Senator Edwin Melvin Snowe J. in a telephone interview from his base in Liberia pointed out that, a suggestion was muted to move the first Ordinary Session to Ghana as a second choice.

But his colleagues from Nigeria were quick to point out that when that is done, they are unable to move to Ghana in their numbers because they have a situation in their National Assembly. There is discussion on their national constitution and there is an upcoming election.

“We  had to delay the session by extra two weeks because, we wanted to make sure the situation in Nigeria was clear to enable us move to Nigeria. So this is the situation  we are facing and we would continue to face it because there are growing demand on attendance of MPs in their home countries”.

Additionally, the more countries experience democratic rule, the more there are demands on MPs and until they can achieve electing MPs to represent them in the Community Parliament they have to split between their national Parliament and that of ECOWAS.

“I think the ECOWAS Parliament would begin to achieve more, it is the Community tax payers’ money, if you pay for the ticket of the MP to fly to Abuja, and that MP goes to Abuja for two three days and there is emergency, he or she has to come back home because that is where his or her allegiance is; but if you have an MP who is dedicated to serve his Parliament you would have more from him or her than we are having now”.

As to whether, the Authority of Heads of States and Government contacted to help champion electing lawmakers to the Community Parliament would be able to assist, he said “this is only attainable through the political will. Once the Authority of Heads of States do not show that political will that is needed; the speakers dream would not come to reality”.

And this requires more than just dinning, winning, laughing and joking together; it requires honesty and that is what they need to resolve. This issue of electing MPs to ECOWAS Parliament, just regular visiting and pleasantries is not sufficient enough to solve this problem, he emphasised.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com