The opening ceremony of the first Extraordinary Session 2021 of the Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) took place Monday, March 29, 2021 in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone.
The main topic of this Session: adoption of the strategic plan (2020-2024) of the Fifth Legislature of ECOWAS Parliament; The strategic plan is a framework for guiding programs and activities of the parliament for the current legislative term. It clearly states the vision, mission, goals and objectives of the institution. It takes into account the achievements of previous legislatures and takes into consideration the major political, economic, social and environmental changes taking place in the West African region and in the world.
Two important communications are also planned during this parliamentary meeting. The first deals with “the general situation of youth in the ECOWAS region”. Commissioner responsible for social and gender affairs of the ECOWAS Commission, Siga Fatima Jagne, will make this presentation.
The second presentation was on “the evolution of COVID-19 pandemic in the ECOWAS Community”. The Director General of the West African Health Organization (WAHO), Stanley Okolo, will deliver the presentation.
The opening ceremony of the Session was graced by the presence of the President of Sierra Leone, Julius Maada Bio. He was joined by the Chairman of the National Transitional Council of Mali, Malick Diaw, Speaker of the National Assembly of Guinea, Amadou Damaro Camara, President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean Claude Kassi Brou, and the Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament, Sidie Mohamed Tunis. Speaker Tunis, a Sierra Leonean national, said he was “overwhelmed with joy and moved by a great sense of happiness” for holding this meeting in his country. Beyond the emotion, he stressed the need for the parliament to adopt this four-year strategic plan (2020-2024) “The Strategic Plan will provide guidance in decision-making and resource allocation to enable Parliament to achieve its objectives,” he said.
The election of ECOWAS Members of Parliament by direct universal suffrage is a key policy agenda of Speaker Tunis’ term. “Direct election by the people we serve, gives leaders a sense of responsibility and makes them realize that they have been chosen by the people to play a patriotic and dedicated role,” he said. He asked President Julius Maada Bio to “spearhead” the cause at the ECOWAS Conference of Heads of State and Government.
The Sierra Leonean President was receptive to this request. “I share the view that direct universal suffrage promotes accountability in the representation process,” he said.
Five MPs from Ghana (Alexander Kwamena Afenyo-Markin; Abdul-Aziz Ayaba Musah; Johnson Kwaku Adu; Laadi Ayii Ayamba; Emmanuel Kwasi Bedzrah) and one from Nigeria (Ajayi Borrofice) were sworn in during the ceremony. They are now full Members of the Community Parliament.