The President of the Republic Of The Gambia,
His Excellency, Mr. Adama Barrow
Event: Opening of the Parliamentary Seminar on the Evaluation of Fourth Legislature of the ECOWAS Parliament with Focus on the
Implementation of the Strategic Plan and the Supplementary Act on the Enhancement of Powers of the Parliament
Date: 23rd January, 2020
Venue: Banjul, The Gambia
The Honourable Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament,
Honourable Speaker and Members of the National Assembly of The Gambia,
Honourable Speakers from the ECOWAS Region present,
Secretary General and Head of the Civil Service,
Distinguished Heads of Delegation
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf my Government, the August National Assembly of The Gambia and the entire Gambian nation, I have the honour to welcome the Honourable Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Honourable Cisse-Lo and his delegation to The Gambia.
Indeed, it is a delight for this August Assembly and all of us to be associated with this important seminar, organised to evaluate the Fourth Legislature of the ECOWAS Parliament. I am informed that the focus will be on the implementation of the Strategic Plan and the Supplementary Act on the enhancement of the powers of the Parliament.
Honourable Speaker, we are very pleased and honoured that you chose our dear country to host both the Seminar and the Extra-Ordinary Session of the Parliament. Hosting one of the most important forums of the Fourth Legislature of the ECOWAS Parliament is a testimony that the democracy we have been nurturing during these three years is solid enough to earn international recognition.
Honourable Speaker, the theme of your meeting could not have been more relevant. As representatives of the citizens of the sub-region, it is necessary that, at the end of a legislative term, you review and evaluate your performance and the implementation status of the ideals and goals of integrating the economies and peoples of our region, as envisioned by the founding fathers of the Organisation.
This is particularly critical, as the vision and emphasis of the Community is shifting from an ‘ECOWAS of States’ to an ‘ECOWAS of Peoples.’
With this in view, all the programmes and activities of the Community should be people-centred. For this reason, it is most fitting for you to evaluate the progress towards ensuring that the People of the Community enjoy and appreciate the benefits of sub-regional integration.
It is best practice to review your performance and results to be accountable to the community you represent. This will justify the investments and resource inputs for your activities, thus making this meeting imperative.
All of these factors are embedded in the spirit of democracy, which is built on the independence of the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. Parliaments in functional democracies enjoy constitutionally guaranteed powers to make laws for good governance. The dynamics of modern democracy now extend the scope and functions of Parliaments to regional bodies seeking to improve integration and cross-border trade among member states.
It is worth remembering that ECOWAS is an outcome of the necessity for cooperation and collaboration on socio-economic issues within the sub-region. Consequently, to alleviate the economic challenges that hamper progress, we have to accept and take a strong position in the global economy through technology and innovation. We do realise that research and experimentation in all aspects of human endeavour is a continuous process.
Honourable Speaker, over the years, ECOWAS has recorded noticeable milestones; but, irrespective of the achievements registered, it is obligatory to examine the challenges confronting the Community and its institutions. It is for this reason that your decision to review the Fourth Legislature of the Parliament is fundamental.
The revised ECOWAS Treaty of 1993 and the volume of other protocols, conventions and agreements show that Member States obviously have an understanding of the pathway to regional economic integration. For instance, there is a clear understanding of the role of trade, infrastructure, private sector participation, free movement of goods, services and people within the Community.
As you take stock of the prospects and challenges of the ECOWAS Parliament, it is wise to remember also that the activities of ECOWAS transcend borders, institutions and interest groups. The external and internal environment will continue to change, hence the need to innovate and transform our institutions to serve the Community better.
Peace and security continue to be the basis for sustainable development; thus, considerable policy improvements and implementation frameworks stand to enhance peace, security and socio-economic development in the region.
Honourable Speaker, I have been informed of the tremendous strides you made during the last four years to use the ECOWAS Parliament to mediate, and find solutions to the many security challenges that exist in the sub-region. The Authority of Heads of State of ECOWAS has noted, with deep appreciation, the various missions of ECOWAS Parliamentarians to various hotspots to initiate dialogue between the contending parties there. The objective of those missions were genuine efforts to end the conflict and insecurity in those countries.
We acknowledge your attempts to redeem our destitute youths held in deplorable camps. We are saddened by the dangerous journeys such youths undertake to Europe through the Desert and the Mediterranean Sea. Part of the solution to this issue lies in education, job creation and training for technical and entrepreneurial skill acquisition and application.
I assure you that all your efforts are immensely appreciated. They are contributing to the measures adopted by the Authority of Heads of State for sustained political stability, peace and security in the sub-region.
Honourable Speaker, the promotion of dialogue as a means of conflict resolution, and the respect for the fundamental principle of good governance, are some of the principles that need to be entrenched, thereby promoting the agenda of an integrated ECOWAS of People.
Institutional capacity is another major driver of regional integration. All processes relating to the improvement of the governance systems of the ECOWAS institutions should be oriented towards efficient management of regional cooperation and integration programmes. We must put a sharper focus on implementing the ECOWAS protocols.
We remain hopeful that, as a platform for dialogue, consultation and consensus building, and as representatives of the Peoples of West Africa, your advocacy will continue to put emphasis on issues that matter most for the collective wellbeing of all citizens.
We urge other ECOWAS institutions to draw inspiration from the work of the Parliament in the drive to reviewing and evaluating the scope and mandate of their operations.
I congratulate the Honourable Speaker and Honourable Members of the ECOWAS Parliament on the choice of The Gambia as host country for this significant event.
I encourage all delegates to explore the beautiful landscape of the Smiling Coast of Africa and the warm hospitality of the Gambian people.
Honourable Speaker, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,