ECOWAS parliament speaker seeks collaborative dialogue, mediation towards resolving conflicts

Memounatou Ibrahima. Speaker of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament, has called for collaborative efforts through dialogue and mediation among member states to resolve the bloc’s multiple challenges.

Ibrahima made the call at the First Ordinary Session of the 6th ECOWAS Parliament, in Abuja on Monday.

She listed the subregion’s pressing challenges as poverty, terrorism, violent extremism, food insecurity and climate change in the sub-region, and stressed the need for a multifaceted approach to tackle them.

“We are still grappling with a number of scourges and challenges, such as poverty, climate change, the Russian-Ukrainian crisis and the conflict in the Middle East, to name but a few.

“Unfortunately, these problems are compounded by another phenomenon of staggering proportions in our region, namely the upsurge in the threat of terrorism, violent extremism and organised crime.

“This is costing the lives of our valiant defence and security forces, as well as thousands of innocent people, and such asymmetrical threat weighs heavily on our conscience as Africans,” she said.

The speaker stressed the need to adopt what she described as the “Kano Declaration,” which was earlier made at the extraordinary session of the parliament held in May in Kano.

This, she said, entailed establishing ECOWAS Adhoc committees for conflict mediation, and the formation of an ECOWAS standby regional force and finance reviews.

She said that part of the Kano Declaration was the adoption and consideration of the fundamental texts, which are key to the functioning of the Community Parliament, namely the Rules of Procedure, Strategic Plan and Activity Plan.

“Discussions on these various issues led to the adoption by Parliament of what is known as The “Kano Declaration.

“Specifically, by means of this declaration, we have resolved, among other things, to set up an Ad hoc mediation committee to initiate and maintain not only dialogue with the authorities of these different countries.

“But also, among our various populations, we will conduct field visits to understand and help settle disagreements between the two friendly and sister nations, Benin and Niger.

“We want to encourage the ECOWAS Commission to expedite the implementation of the joint defence strategy to fight against terrorism and violent extremism,” she said.

Ibrahima also said the Parliament had taken steps to address the threat of three of its members, Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, to quit ECOWAS, and the growing tensions between Benin and Niger.

Also speaking, the President of the Nigerian Senate, Godswill Akpabio, called on the Parliament to embrace unity, innovation, and a shared destiny to overcome the numerous challenges facing West Africa.

Represented by Deputy Senate President, Jibrin Barau, Akpabio said that the region’s collective aspirations would only be transformed into achievements through a united front.

“As we embark on this session, let us remain steadfast in our optimism. The challenges we face are not insurmountable.

“With unity, innovation, and an unwavering belief in our shared destiny, we can transform our collective aspirations into enduring achievements.

“This spirit of unity should permeate every session of the ECOWAS Parliament. It should envelop us like a comforting embrace, as we proudly raise the banner of ECOWAS,” Akpabio said.

Speaker, Nigeria’s House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas, represented by his Deputy, Benjamin Kalu, said that notwithstanding its challenges, the parliament was resolute towards promoting democracy, peace, security and human rights.

Abbas said that the emerging challenges of terrorism and violent extremism had made it mandatory for parliament to device means of mitigating them through the commitment and cooperation of member states.

NAN reports that Ibrahima was sworn in on May 23 as the first female speaker of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) parliament.

Ibrahima, who hails from Togo, was sworn in on Thursday at the second extraordinary session of the parliament in Kano.

She was nominated for the post by members of the parliament from Togo and was elected unopposed.

The ECOWAS parliament operates a rotational system for the speakership using an alphabetical order of countries.

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