The Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Senator Ike Ekweremadu on Friday, 15th
March 2013 in Uyo, capital of Nigeria’s Akwa Ibom State, urged stakeholders to
support a draft Act for the enhancement of the legislative powers of the
institution to enable it serve the Community better and in accordance with
international best practices.
Senator Ekweremadu, Deputy President of Nigeria’s upper legislative Chamber,
the Senate, told participants of an ECOWAS Retreat that the move would equip
the Parliament with the requisite powers to effectively compliment the
activities of other Community institutions in fulfilling the aspirations of
"It is my belief that a legislating ECOWAS Parliament will not only conform to
International Conventions and best practices in regional integration, but
would fast track the transition to an ECOWAS of People," he said in his
presentation to the 7th joint Retreat of the ECOWAS Commission, Community
Institutions, Permanent and Special Representatives and Heads of National
The Community parliament presently plays largely advisory and consultative
The draft Supplementary Act is in response to the 2006 Decision of regional
leaders authorising the revision of the legal text setting up the institution
towards enhancing its powers. It provides for direct election into the
institution, oversight of sectoral policies and confirmation of statutory
appointees, establishment of office of Parliamentary Ombudsman, and the
integration of the parliament into the regional conflict resolutions and
Speaker Ekweremadu said the ECOWAS Vision 2020 for transformation into an
ECOWAS of People should not be seen as a "well-worded banner, but should mark
the beginning of a radical shift in the strategy of the Community," where
Community priorities are citizen-driven and not determined by convenience.
While stressing that the time was auspicious for such enhancement, he
highlighted the contributions of the Parliament to regional integration,
especially in democracy and good governance; peace, security and stability,
and the promotion of trade and free movement. Also, in the Economic
Partnership Agreement (EPA) being negotiated between West Africa and the
European Union, the Parliament has called for a visa-free regime to be
integrated into the impending Agreement.
The Parliamentary Speaker said the free visa regime would contribute to
balanced trade and cooperation, describing as "unacceptable diplomatic let
down and economic setback, a situation where qualified and credible ECOWAS
business persons and government officials are denied visa to enter and carry
out legitimate businesses in Europe."
During question and answer session after the presentation, the President of
the ECOWAS Commission, His Excellency Kadré Désiré Ouédraogo said the
Commission has initiated the process for the development of a legal document
to boost the powers of the Parliament.
The President of the Community Court, Justice Nana Awa Daboya made a
presentation on the role of the institution in regional integration and listed
some recommendations to strengthen its contribution.
These include the ratification of Community Protocols, allowing the Court
jurisdiction over serious violation of human rights, institution of a
mechanism for implementing the decisions of the Court and designating focal
points in Member States for the execution of the Court’s decisions and an
increase in the number of the judges of the Court.
There were also presentations by other community institutions including the
West African Health Organisation, the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and
Development and the West African Power Pool.
The three-day 7th joint retreat is discussing the mechanism for coordinated
implementation of regional integration programmes in Member States.