Senate President Bukola Saraki on Thursday in Abuja urged ECOWAS member states to focus more on ending violent conflicts, the spread of Small Arms and Light Weapons and Reduction of Poverty in the sub-region.
Mr. Saraki made the call at the opening of the Second Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament.
He was represented Yusuf Lasun, First Deputy Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament.
The senate president said that violent conflicts and the proliferation of small arms has remained a challenge that hampered peace and development in the sub- region.
“With more than 70 per cent of the West African population living below the poverty line of one dollar a day, civil unrest and grievances, both recipes for conflicts become widespread.
“Additionally, 77,000 of the small arms are allegedly within the control of West African insurgent groups; the circulation of illegal arms has increased the proclivity of conflicts within the sub-region.
“The restoration of resources peace to troubled states cannot be solved by one nation in isolation; that is why we are here.
“We can go through our collective experience from different backgrounds and nations, champion various causes that will encourage and improve the quality of lives for the citizens.” Mr. Saraki said.
He further called on member states to focus on modalities and programmes developed to facilitate sub-regional trade and reduce poverty.
“With an estimated population of 362 million people spread across 15 sovereign states, the advantages of a stronger trading link among states will make West Africa the business hub of the world.
“Regional trade lag behind compared to trade with developed and emerging countries outside Africa.
“Joint ventures between states in the development of infrastructure like roads and railway should be in the front burner of our deliberation,” he said.
In his address, Roger Dang, Speaker of the Pan-African Parliament, also reiterated the call for member states to “speak with one voice” and enhance collaboration to address existing challenges.
“Solutions to the problems of Africa is to respect one Africa, one voice.
“We should speak with one voice when faced with these issues and mobilise to fight against terrorism and violent crime.” he added.