The ECOWAS Parliament sitting in its 2016 extra ordinary session from 11 to 15 April, 2016, at Abuja, Nigeria, adopted a four-year strategic plan that aligns its activities with the Community Strategic Framework (CSF)). The Strategic Plan, which runs from 2016 to 2020, was contained in the report of the Ad hoc Committee constituted by the Speaker of the Parliament H.E Hon. Moustapha Cisse Lo, to consider the draft Strategic Plan of the 4th Legislature.
The Parliament identified itself as operating within Goal 3 of the CSF that focuses on “deepening the process of political cohesion and participation” and has set four strategic objectives for itself.
Strategic objectives to be pursued in the period include ensuring participation and representation of the entire population in the decision making process of the Community; strengthening the institutional role and powers of the ECOWAS Parliament; ensuring peace, security, good governance and human rights; and promoting relations with Community institutions, national parliaments, inter-parliamentary bodies and partner organizations.
In the course of the four years, Members of Parliament would be involved in as many as 30 delocalized (out-of-headquarter) meetings, eight workshops, two study tours, three parliamentary workshops, one parliamentary seminar and two sets of fact finding missions.
The Parliament agreed to regularly monitor and evaluate the implementation of the plan. In order to harmonize activities and judiciously use resources, it will organize interactive sessions between its standing Committees and corresponding departments of the ECOWAS Commission under an initiative that could kick off as early as the next Ordinary Session.
The additional financial resources needed for implementing the Strategic Plan would be the subject of a conference the Parliament plans to hold with partners.
Additionally, the report recommended that Parliament considers its greater involvement in collaborating with ECOWAS Commission in sensitization for the effective enforcement of the Community Levy following observation of poor compliance by Member States.
Furthermore, the Strategic Plan recommended speeding up the process for the enhancement of the powers of Parliament with a view to establishing better conditions for Members of Parliament to make impact within the regional integration process.
The Plenary further accepted a recommendation to improve communication with national parliaments and restore the allocation given to them for sensitization campaigns so as to make the ECOWAS Parliament more visible in Member States
The realization of the Strategic Plan however hinges on the status of the Parliament, which is presently advisory, lending credence to the continued quest for the enhancement of the powers of the parliament, which is a dominant component of the adopted plan. This was highlighted by Hon. Christophe Padumhekou Tchao (Togo) during the Ad hoc Committee meeting, who queried “If the ECOWAS Parliament has its powers limited, how can we be sure that we can achieve this vision 2020?”
Drawing form the experience of the 3rd Legislature, when the draft Supplementary Act for the Enhancement of the Powers of the Parliament made it to an advanced stage without getting the needed signatures from the Authority of Heads of State and Government so as to come into force, Parliamentarians are of the opinion that it has become pertinent to rethink old strategies if a re-newed bid for its power enhancement is to be achieved in this 4th Legislature.
Hon. Prince Yormie Johnson (Liberia) stressed the need to explore new approaches, “Parliament has in the past done what is being done now,” he noted as he went on to suggest direct election of Members of Parliament as a way of ensuring power emanates from the Community citizens.
Although we have a long way to go, I will encourage all of us to continue striving until we achieve it, Hon. Johnson said.
The Strategic Plan has allowed the Parliament to identify its objectives and it now has a roadmap to make contributions toward the integration of the Community, added the Speaker, Hon. Moustapha Cissé Lô, who is also the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly of Senegal,