The Speaker of the National Assembly of Benin, Professor Mathurin Coffi Nago, has advocated that West African parliaments should hold consultations among themselves in order to be able to make contributions to the democratic process and socio-economic integration in the sub-region.
He said since many African countries adopted democracy in the 1990s, Africa had become the scene for armed conflicts, adding that the uncontrolled movement of weapons used in the wars was a threat to peace and security in the sub-region and a source of discomfort of political, economic and social levels.
Professor Nago said no state was free from terrorism that had plagued the African continent, which is as a result of poverty, hunger, malnutrition, illiteracy, disease, corruption and bad governance.
The speaker of Benin’s National Assembly, who stated this when he addressed Ghana’s Parliament on Wednesday, said: “In my opinion, all these challenges can be met successfully if we conduct joint action in a dynamic mutual solidarity and better resource management in our respective countries.”
He said that justified co-operation at the highest point, with parliamentary collaboration, to help address the major issues of current concern in the region, particularly the challenges of governance, poverty, peace and security.”
Stating that such move would prevent or reduce misunderstandings, verbal skirmishes as well as inter- and intra-country conflict, he said the quality of the membership of Ghana’s Parliament assured him that it was an efficient actor for regional co-operation and integration.
Prof. Nago said his visit to Ghana was motivated by the high quality of friendship, brotherhood and co-operation between Ghana and Benin and the willingness of heads of state of both countries to support the consolidation of co-operation between their countries and the democratic process in the sub-region.
“We Members of Parliament are definitely part of this willingness and must work very hard to achieve this objective of our bilateral cooperation.
“In this context, the two countries have to facilitate the free movement of people and goods in accordance with the objectives of the Permanent Joint Commission of Ghana-Benin Co-operation,” he noted.
Areas of cooperation
Prof. Nago stated that the two countries had chosen to combine their efforts for better co-operation, mainly in the academic sector for training Benin students in Ghana and admitting Ghanaian students to training institutions in Benin.
He also spoke of co-operation in the fields of culture, tourism and craft, and in the industrial sector, mainly for developing industrial-free zones in Ghana and Benin.
The speaker, who arrived in Ghana last Saturday on a five-day working visit, said there were also plans for co-operation in the electricity and gas sector to ensure continuous production and supply of energy from power plants in Ghana and Benin in the framework of a regional strategy in West Africa.
Mr Doe Adjaho acknowledged the visionary leadership and foresight of the late Mr Justice Francis Annan, Speaker of the first and second Parliaments of the Fourth Republic of Ghana, and his colleague speakers of West Africa at the time who laid the foundation for and established the Conference of Speakers and Presiding Officers of Parliament of West Africa States.
He recalled that the first meeting of the conference took place in the Speaker’s conference room at Ghana’s Parliament in 1999, and subsequent meetings were held in Ouagadougou in 2000 and in Abuja in 2001.
“These initiatives, which aim at building legislative harmony in pursuit of the wellbeing of the citizens of the community, were extremely significant as they preceded the establishment of the ECOWAS Parliament,” he said.