GAMBIA DELEGATION TO ECOWAS PARLIAMENT RETURNS

Muhammad Bah

The Gambia Parliamentary Delegation to the ECOWAS parliament on Monday 11th August, 2014 reported to the committee of the whole House at a National Assembly session held in Banjul.

The 2014 First Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament was held in Abuja, Federal Republic of Nigeria from 19th May to 3rd June, 2014.

Hon. Ablie Suku Singhateh, Lower Badibbu, an Ecowas Member of Parliament and Head of Delegation for the Gambia parliamentary delegation to the ECOWAS first ordinary parliamentary session, said the forum was for dialogue, consultation and consensus for representatives of the people of West Africa in order to strengthen integration. He said the forum constituted members of each ECOWAS Member states which consist of 115 seats. He said the ECOWAS parliament has considered all matters concerning the West African Community, such as Human Rights and fundamental freedoms and they made recommendation to the institutions and organs of the community.

Hon. Singahteh said the Hon. Speaker of the ECOWAS parliament, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, CFR had first welcomed all delegates to the first ordinary session of the ECOWAS Parliament, saying the 2014 session is the first of its kind in 14 years of the ECOWAS parliament. He said Mr Kadre Desire Quedrago, President of the ECOWAS Commission also delivered a good will message to the ECOWAS parliament and indicated that in recent years, particularly in 2013, ECOWAS has made a quantum leap in the advancement of its integration processes.

Suku said, “Mr Quedrago said institutional reforms which aimed at endowing the commission with effectiveness are commensurate with ECOWAS ambitions. He highlighted the challenges as the lack of more inclusive, peaceful and integrated region and greater coordinated measures to combat the new threats constituted by terrorism and organized crime. “

He added, “The president of the ECOWAS commission, Mr Kadre, further said the process for the enhancement of the powers of the ECOWAS parliament will propel the integration towards achieving ECOWAS of people.”

Seconding the motion Hon. Haddy Nyang-Jagne, Member for Jeshwang and a delegate said the ECOWAS parliament is committed to bringing peace and security in the community (ECOWAS). She reported that the parliament condemned the Boku Haram threats in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

NAMs Intervention

Hon. Sulayman Joof, Member for Serrekunda West commended the delegation for making representatives of other member states applaud the country’s report to ECOWAS at the session. However, he said ECOWAS should move from its status as an advisory parliament to a legislative body for it to be effective. He asked delegates whether there are any plans to move this community to that stage quickly.

In his further intervention, he said the protocol on free movement of goods and persons has been ratified but it is still not implemented by many ECOWAS countries.

Hon. Lamin K. Jammeh, Member for Illiasa Constituency, an Ecowas Member of Parliament urged the Trade Ministry to forward all the remaining ECOWAS trade protocols for the National Assembly to ratify them. He said the Gambia cannot afford to be left out. He revealed that the country’s GDP stands at 6% growth, but said the state still has to cut down its domestic borrowing.

For his part Hon. Netty Baldeh Member for Tumana constituency regarded ECOWAS as a strong institution. He said however the challenge of the community is still the lack of a political will by it member states. He said ECOWAS must not be ECOWAS of office rather it must be ECOWAS of the people.

Hon. Mam Cherno Jallow, Member for Upper Nuimi dilated on the Ebola Virus referring to it as a National issue and a concern. He said parliament must seek solutions to prevent Ebola from entering the country. He called ECOWAS National Assembly Members of The Gambia to demand an extra-ordinary ECOWAS session to arrest Ebola Virus. “Our people are in fear,” said Hon Jallow.