The Speaker of the Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Sidie Mohamed Tunis, chaired the virtual opening ceremony of the 2nd ordinary session, known as the budgetary session, for the year 2020, on Wednesday January 13, 2021. This session, initially scheduled for December 2020 at the institution’s headquarters in Abuja, was finally held by videoconference due to the second wave of COVID-19.
As the plenary opened, the President of the ECOWAS Court of Justice, Hon. Justice Edward Amoako Asante, delivered a goodwill message and speech of solidarity to the Parliamentarians.
During the ceremony, six MPs (five from Guinea and one from Liberia) were sworn in, marking their entry into the Community’s Parliament.
The report of the July 2020 extraordinary session of Parliament, submitted for the consideration of MPs, was adopted.
In opening the proceedings of the session, Rt. Hon. Sidie Mohamed Tunis recalled the constraints linked to the COVID-19 pandemic which forced the Parliament, once again, to hold this session virtually. He therefore called on the citizens of the Community to respect the measures put in place by the respective governments of the community space in order to curb the spread of this disease.
“However, I am convinced that we will emerge from this crisis stronger and more united. The challenges posed by COVID-19 must become an opportunity for change; a change that leaves no one behind; a change which makes our region a model of solidarity and sustainability”, he declared.
Addressing the agenda of the session, Speaker Tunis underlined that the present parliamentary session, called budgetary session, offers Parliament the opportunity in accordance with the provisions of the Additional Act, examine the budget of the Community. More specifically, Parliament will have to ensure that budget forecasts are geared towards programs that meet the needs of the population.
Therefore, for Speaker Tunis, “the 2021 budget should not only cover the immediate threats linked to COVID-19, it must also advance efforts on other fronts and priorities dear to our region: in particular, democracy, the rule of law, peace and conflict resolution, the fight against terrorism, poverty reduction and climate change”.
After listing the various challenges facing the West African region, Rt. Hon. Sidie Mohamed Tunis maintained that, finally, he is optimistic about victory at the end. He also affirmed that the Community will get by the problems of the pandemic. “Together we will build a stronger and more resilient ECOWAS. In a strong union, success is certain; we will win together”.