…Assures President Bio
March 30, 2021
By Jariatu S. Jusu
President Julius Maada Bio has assured the ECOWAS Parliament of Sierra Leone’s commitment to implementing the ECOWAS single currency.
He said his government will continue to device prudent economic policies to satisfy and meet the demands of the convergence.
Speaking at the first extra-ordinary session of the ECOWAS Parliament held at Bintumani International Conference hall, President Bio said Sierra Leone will continue to fulfil its promise to implementing the regional integration commitment and policy harmonization programmes within the framework of ECOWAS single currency programs, which includes the implementation of the ECOWAS trade, liberalization scheme, the ECOWAS common external tariff, payment system, infrastructure development and harmonization of the statistics and policy issues.
He commended the Members of Parliament for according Sierra Leone its respect to holding the first extraordinary session and also commended the ECOWAS Parliament for promoting peace, security, democracy and good governance in the region as demonstrated in the election observation missions that monitor elections in it Member State.
He urged that they should work hand in hand in the resolution of conflict and triggers of conflicts, as well as the integrity and sovereignty of other states and community of nations.
He said they must make their countries as sovereign one and fine destinations for investments, nothing that that would be done by the adoption of practices, policies and regulations that are beautiful and even across the borders.
He added that they should harvest greater regional economic integration and more market linkages in the entire community.
He urged ECOWAS members and citizens to cooperate towards the attainable goals in the proposals and also be mindful of the looming youth crisis, and therefore intentionally invest in human capital development.
Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament, Hon. Sidie M. Tunis, said they converged in Freetown to execute a solemn responsibility in line with the Supplementary Act on the Enhancement of the Powers of the ECOWAS Parliament.
“Article 27.2c provides that Parliament should endeavour to hold its Extraordinary Sessions in the respective Member States, either on the initiative of the Bureau or at the invitation of the Member State,” he said.
He stated that at its last meeting on 25th January, the Bureau of Parliament unanimously selected Freetown as the venue to host the 2021 First Extraordinary Session.
“However, due to concerns surrounding COVID-19, we could not conclude on a suitable date. As situation improved and it became clearer that we could meet in person, the date was fixed and I am happy that it has become a reality,” he said.
He stated that prior to holding the session; Parliament acted with determination and swiftly implemented the necessary steps to continue its work under the current circumstances.
“Parliament can be proud to note that it exercised its prerogatives and continues to maintain democratic accountability throughout the period of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Hon. Tunis said the cardinal purpose for which the session was held was to present and adopt a Strategic Plan for the 5th Legislature (2020-2024) of the ECOWAS Parliament.
“The plan, which has been drafted by the Administration of the Parliament under the supervision of our outstanding Secretary General, is guided by the provisions of the Community Strategic Framework and the ECOWAS Vision. It identifies program areas, with themes and priority areas that would systematically assist the Parliament in executing its mandate, as defined by the Supplementary Act,” he said.
He said the Strategic Plan will provide direction in decision making and allocations of resources to enable Parliament attain its goals.
“It will also allow us to focus on our mandates and top priorities; it will provide guidance on the efficient and effective utilization of scarce resources. It will serve as the basis for Monitoring and Evaluating of the performance of Parliament during the tenure of the current Legislature.”
He opined that it is their sincere hope that the plan will serve as a spring board to launch a new revolution that brings the Community Parliament closer to the people.
“We remain committed to the call for direct election of members to the ECOWAS Parliament. As one of the highlights of the strategic plan, I want to reiterate that call. The parliament, since its formation in 2000, has sufficiently endeavoured to perform its role diligently. However, the election of Members by direct universal suffrage, the power to initiate legislation and the Parliamentary Ombudsman remain noticeable casualties,” he said.
He stated that that was why during the inauguration of the 5th Legislature, he identified the election of members by direct universal suffrage as a key policy agenda of his tenure and to achieve that, he immediately established an Adhoc Committee which comprises of 16 Members of Parliament and chaired by the Honourable 1st Deputy Speaker, to review the feasibility of achieving the election of Members to the Community Parliament by direct universal suffrage.
He said the Committee successfully held its first meeting in Lagos and the report from that meeting was adopted during their last session.
“You would all agree with me that direct election by the people we serve creates a sense of responsibility in the leaders and makes them realize that they have been chosen by the people to perform in a patriotic and dedicated role. This will compel us to use the power and authority we have in a positive way for the benefit of the masses. We believe that unless people participate in the development process, our set targets and objectives cannot be fully attained. I seize this opportunity to call on Your Excellency, Mr. President, to kindly grant this your unwavering support by serving as the champion of this cause at the level of the Authority of Heads of States, as its success will guarantee that the people have vested interest in civic affairs and being actively involved in the decision-making processes at all levels and in all dimensions,” he said.