Efforts at sub-regional integration would be fruitless unless political leaders in the sub-region are willing and prepared to cede part of their sovereignty to West Africa.
“We cannot ignore the challenges currently plaguing the implementation of regional commitments, which, to a large extent, relate to political rather than technical considerations,” the Speaker of Parliament, Mr Edward Doe Adjaho, stated.
In a speech read on his behalf by Mr Barton Odro, Deputy Speaker of Parliament, at the opening of a two-day ‘Experts meeting of ECOWAS Member States on the Enhancement of Powers of the ECOWAS Parliament’ in Accra, Mr Doe Adjaho noted that the ECOWAS community needed a strong organ to provide leadership for political dialogue.
Such a move, he explained, would support the implementation of the community protocols and regulations by member states.
The ECOWAS Parliament was established by Article 13 of the 1993 Revised Treaty of ECOWAS.
The parliament is an assembly of the people of the community and constituted by representatives who are deemed to represent all the people of the community.
Currently, the ECOWAS Parliament has only an advisory status and is empowered to deal with issues bordering on human rights and fundamental freedoms through recommendations to institutions and organs of the community.
What the community now seeks to do is to assume full legislative status within ECOWAS but the Vice-President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr Toga Gayewea McIntosh, sees two problems.
“As we enter the next stage on this progressive road map towards our combined desired goal, permit me to flag two critical challenges which are glaring us in the face and stalling our attempts at fostering regional integration,” he stated.
According to Mr McIntosh, how to ensure that community laws, when passed, would be legally binding and, therefore, enforceable within the protective arms of respective national legal system was the first challenge.
The second problem, he stated, was rooted in the spirit and intent of ECOWAS vision 2020.
“The ECOWAS vision projects a region of peace and prosperity which ought to evolve out of long term development commitments as a regional community. Secondly, the effective and sustainable meaning of ECOWAS within this vision is when we move from an ECOWAS of states to become an ECOWAS of peoples. Finally, we envision a region governed in accordance with the principles of democracy, the rule of law and good governance. All these can only be secured in partnership with our peoples, our governments and with strong support from our international partners,” he stated.
The meeting, attended by representatives of all West African countries, is also made-up of legal practitioners, parliamentarians, and institutional management experts to consider proposals contained in a draft supplementary act, which aims at enhancing the powers of the ECOWAS Parliament.
Story: Naa Lamiley Bentil