Senator Ike Ekweremadu, Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, has called on the member-states in the sub-region to intensify efforts at tackling the resurgence of coups and terror in the area.
Ekweremadu said this at the First Ordinary Session (2012) of the ECOWAS Parliament on Monday in Abuja.
He said the resurgence of coups and terror did not only oppose the provisions of the ECOWAS Protocol on Good Governance alone but went contrary to the African Union Charter on Democracy.
``The insurgence of coups is holding back the efforts, the gains we’ve made so far in democracy because our democracy has been nascent, so we need to guard it jealously.
``About a year ago, we were telling ourselves that we had achieved a complete democracy in the sub region but over the last few months we’ve had very unfortunate incidents of military coming back to governance.
``It’s like a cancer, so we need to deal with it decisively at this point to ensure that it does not spread.''
The speaker also condemned the acts of terrorism in the sub region especially activities of suicide bombers under the auspices of the Boko Haram sect in Northern Nigeria.
He noted that such acts, if not addressed, could lead to security breach in the sub-region as well as discourage investments and hinder development.
``The wave of insecurity in parts of the community holds an ominous future for the sub-region if not summarily addressed.
``Acts of terrorism, violent crimes as well as political and religious violence are not just genuine and frightening threats to integration, free movement of persons and goods, tourism as well as intra-regional and foreign investment in the sub region, but constitute direct danger to democracy, good governance and stability.”
He said the parliament would complement the efforts of the ECOWAS Commission, in tackling the crises in Mali and Guinea Bissau.
Ekweremadu noted that the progress had been made on the enhancement of the powers adding that the ad hoc committee set up in 2011 to come up with modalities in which the parliament would attain a legislative role completed the report.
``We believe that if an institution is a parliament, definitely you expect it to do certain things but none of these exists in the ECOWAS parliament for now; the word used for ECOWAS Parliament is a misnomer.
``Now we want to make sure we perform the real functions of a parliament; we set up an ad hoc committee that went to work and I’m happy to announce that it has completed its work with the deadline we gave to it.
``The committee will present its report in the course of this session; we will adopt it and we will take steps to deal with the implementation.”
He emphasised that if the enhancement of the powers of the parliament was successful, it would seperate from perspective of regional integration and complement the efforts of the legislative arms of government of member states.
Also speaking, the Speaker of the House of Parliament, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, reiterated the call for the parliament to operate legislatively adding that it would represent what it really stood for.
``It is only when the parliament is fully entrenched in the decision making processes of the sub regional organisation that the quest for the transformation of ECOWAS of states to ECOWAs of the people would actually make more meaning.
The Speaker of the house, represented by the Deputy Speaker, Emeka Ihedioha, lauded the efforts of the Ekweremadu noting it was a step in the right direction.
The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Amb. Kadre Ouedraogo, the ECOWAS Court, Justice Nana Daboya, and the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development, Mr Bashir Ifo, reiterated the need for increased efforts in tackling insecurity in the region.
They also commended the efforts of the parliament in its moves to acquire the status of a parliament with effective legislative powers.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the session which will end on May 29, is expected to deliberate on the progress report on regional integration programs and policy implementation within member states, among other things.