The argument that made IPAM won ECOWAS inter-university debate

ECOWAS 5th Legislature’s Town Hall Sensitization

By Alfred Koroma

Joyous applause and cheering undertones from the tiered rows of the Bintumani Conference. These were jubilant students from the Institute of Public Administration and Management (IPAM), triumphing their victory, having clinched all the top awards from the Inter-University competition organized by the ECOWAS Parliament on Saturday, 2nd February.

From Inter-University quiz on ECOWAS knowledge, to Inter-University debate on matters relating to direct elections of ECOWAS Members of Parliament, IPAM bagged it all.

This was a contest between Fourah Bay College (FBC) versus IPAM, both from the University of Sierra Leone, debating on whether ECOWAS Parliament will thrive better under direct election of MPs into the region’s Parliament rather than them being nominated from their national assemblies or equivalence.

IPAM argued in favor of the said motion, in a British Parliamentary debate format by which the two debaters for the College – Mohamed S Bangura acted as Prime Minister, deputized by Hawanatu Bangura.

They proposed the motion to their co-debaters, Anthony Belmore and Mohamed J Mangoh from FBC who were opposing in the capacity of Opposition and Deputy Opposition Leaders respectively.

Debating for the motion, the representatives from IPAM argues that allowing ECOWAS citizens to directly elect representatives into the Community’s Parliament will promote transparency, democratic accountability in a way that will not be applicable if the MPs are nominated from their various national assemblies.

“Direct representation promotes regional interest over national interest, argues Mohamed S Bangura,” the presumed Prime Minister. And his Deputy, Hawanatu reechoed similarly: “If you are nominated, means you are not answerable to members of the ECOWAS Community, rather you are only answerable to those who nominated you.”

But the FBC team had a different perspective. The team argues that choosing the MPs from their various national assemblies is still democratic and cost effective.

“Democracy comes in different shapes and forms,” he said Mohamed J Mangoh who debated from the point of view of a Deputy Opposition Leader.

They all made points and counter points in their arguments, but with reference to the presentation style and confidence demonstrated, IPAM stood out more convincing, scoring 80 out of 100 while the opponent trailed back with 60 percent, according to the three foreign ECOWAS MPs who adjudicated the competition.

Presently, MPs serving in ECOWAS Parliament are not elected directly. They are nominated from their individual country’s Parliaments or Assemblies. 

The 5th Legislature of the ECOWAS organized this Town Hall sensitization to bring the Parliament closer to the people and to help you student learn more about the Community Parliament, one of the Judges said before announcing the results.

Reacting to Concord Times after they had been announced winners of the completions, Hawanatu, the Year three student who represented IPAM in the debate said she felt honored witnessing such occasion and being part of the debate.

“It was educative. We learned and then we had fun,” she said. “The debate was absolutely fair. The opponents did well and they were graded well. We as well did our best. I feel like my effort has been rewarded.”

Although he was saddened by the outcome of the results, the Final Year Law Student who represented FBC in the debate, Mohamed Mangoh called on ECOWAS to continue with such an event, saying the program came out well.


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