A 3-day, high level workshop/seminar has ended in Lome, capital of Republic of Togo with a resolve to transform ECOWAS Parliament from Advisory body to a legislative status and position Africa, as an emerging World giant. The workshop was part of efforts to ensure that budgetary goals are achieved at national and regional levels, among ECOWAS member-states.
The workshop which was hosted by the Togolese Government was designed by the National Institute for Legislative Studies, with funding drawn from the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) for Members of ECOWAS Parliament and the focus, is on the Enhanced Powers of ECOWAS Parliament and Oversight over Budgets and Programmes of ECOWAS Institutions and Agencies. It deliberated on how to integrate national objectives and resources into regional goals; deepen democracy and promote people’s Parliament for good governance. These were aptly reflected in the opening remarks by the President of the Togolese Republic and Chairperson of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, His Excellency, Faure Essozimna Gnassingbe, who was represented by the Prime Minister, Komi Selom Klassou. “The Supplementary Act is to enable the ECOWAS Parliament to better commit their time to make developmental legislation for regional development. “ he stated.
In her presentation on how the Resource Needs of Parliaments can be enhanced and appropriated for the development of institutional benchmarks and good governance, Prof. Ladi Hamalai, while acknowledging the capacity deficit in most African parliaments, called for continuous education and training. She spoke on the imperatives of professional developments through parliamentary institutes.
“Establishment of parliamentary Institute, though, a relatively young phenomenon in Africa, with origins from mature democracies such as Canada, they are increasingly being viewed in many countries as a solution to the challenge of poor parliamentary performance”. Pointing participants to the trail-blazing role and the success story of Nigeria’s National Institute for Legislative Studies, NILS, Post Graduate programmes in Legislative and Democratic Studies, the Director General of NILS, Prof. Hamalai noted that parliamentary institutes must remain centres of excellence, non-partisan, independent and research-based. She submits that, strong, robust and active parliamentary institutions remains the bedrock for efficient Parliaments and sustainable democracy in Africa.”
The workshop provided an opportunity to enlighten MPs and participants from ECOWAS Community Institutions and Agencies on the expanded role of the Parliament as well as discuss strategies for effective implementation of the Supplementary Act.
This seminar/Workshop came against the backdrop of the adoption of the Supplementary Act. relating to the Enhancement of Powers of the ECOWAS Parliaments, of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS, during the 50th Ordinary Session in Abuja, 2016.
The Workshop had in attendance, 150 participants, from – ECOWAS Parliament, ECOWAS Commission, National Institute for Legislative Studies, International Organizations and Partner Agencies of ECOWAS, Members of the Civil Society Organizations in Togo, Members of Organized Labour Organizations, the Private Sector and other Officials of ECOWAS Institutions and Agencies in Togo.
Resource persons were drawn from both International and regional institutions in West Africa. The workshop addressed: “The Role of Parliament in the Community-Opportunities for ECOWAS”, “ECOWAS Parliament and its New Mandate – Challenges and Prospects”.
The workshop provided a platform for Members of Parliament and Executive arm of ECOWAS to interact and share experiences on the appropriation process of the community, all geared towards economic development and integration of the sub-region.