The Chairperson of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of States and Government, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, has called on member-states to implement protocols that would facilitate integration in the sub-region.
Ms. Johnson-Sirleaf made the call via a video message at the opening of the second ordinary session of the ECOWAS Parliament in Abuja on Thursday.
She noted that protocols to enhance sub-regional development were slowly implemented by member-states.
She expressed concern that sub-regional trade was less than 13 per cent and that challenges existed in the free movement of goods and persons.
“We must all deploy all efforts and resources toward achieving the ECOWAS Vision 2020 of creating a borderless, peaceful, prosperous and cohesive region.
“We need a region built on good governance where our people have the capacity to access and harness these resources through the creation of opportunities for sustainable development and environmental preservation.
“As a community, we currently have several challenges that can all be turned to opportunities if we conjugate our efforts and harness the collaboration that is needed to achieve our objectives,” the chairperson said.
She commended the efforts of the ECOWAS Parliament in developing a four-year strategic plan for economic development and sub-regional integration.
Ms. Johnson-Sirleaf said she would visit Abuja in October and expressed optimism in working with the different ECOWAS institutions and “the people working to make our regional integration a reality”.
“One of the founding aspirations of ECOWAS was to create a community of people rather than a community of states.
“As the link between the people and the government, this august assembly can play a major role in achieving that goal,” she said.
In an interview with journalists, the Speaker of the parliament, Moustapha Cisse Lo, said that the protocols governing the enhancement of power of the parliament were yet to be ratified by member-states.
Mr. Lo said the ratification of relevant protocols was vital to the process of enhancing the legislative functions of the parliament.
He added that the parliament was working with the Authority of Heads of State, the council of ministers and the commission to facilitate the process.
He further said such legislative functions would enable the parliament to enact laws that would facilitate integration and promote the well-being of citizens within the sub-region.
“The heads of states have said that for it to become a legislative assembly, it has to be elected by direct suffrage; that is what the treaty says.
“We are working on a consensus with heads of states, the council of ministers and with the ECOWAS Commission.
“We are asking at the moment that we have the right of mandatory advice on the budget, after that, we can discuss with heads of state at what stage we will become a legislative assembly.”