During 1st Extraordinary Session… Pres. Bio Commends ECOWAS Parliament for Promoting Peace

By Amin Kef Sesay

On the 29th March 2021, President Julius Maada Bio, officially opened the First Extraordinary Session of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament in Freetown for the year 2021. The event took place at the Bintumani International Conference Centre, Aberdeen, Freetown.

After requesting the gathering to dedicate a moment of silence in memory of ECOWAS citizens and other citizens in Africa lost to the global pandemic and other causes, the President said he wanted to be the first to officially welcome representatives of member States to Sierra Leone.

He said they might have already discovered that the country was a peaceful place with golden beaches, breath- taking hills, a rich history and culture, and a very friendly people.

“It is no longer the land of war, pestilence, bad governance, and natural disasters. We owe a debt of gratitude to ECOWAS leaders, soldiers and citizens who helped us safely navigate those dark days in our history. We owe everything else to the sheer willpower of Sierra Leoneans to cope, recover, and move on even stronger.

“Ours is now a land at peace where we have consolidated our

democracy and guided by our human capital development priorities and our Medium Term National Development Plan, we are firmly focused on achieving inclusive national development,” he said.

He added that it was indeed an honour for all Sierra Leoneans, for the first time ever, to host the Extraordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament here in Freetown.

During his statement President Bio said as a country, Sierra Leone “welcome one of our own, the Rt. Hon Sidie Mohamed Tunis. Permit us, as a country, to thank this august body for unanimously electing him Speaker of this Assembly during your inaugural session in Niamey, Niger on 9th March 2020.”

He further expressed extreme sentiment that Honourable Sidie Mohamed Tunis “cares very deeply about the advancement of the African Continent and its peoples.”

In addition, President Bio said that Sierra Leone commends the “ECOWAS Parliament for its contribution to the promotion of peace, security, democracy, and good governance in the region as demonstrated in the deployment of election observation missions that monitored elections in Member States.”

Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Hon. Mohamed Sidi Tunis, said that he was overwhelmed by joy and felt exceedingly glad to host the ECOWAS Parliament in Sierra Leone, saying that even though after the inauguration of the 5th Legislature of his administration, COVID-19 took a toll on humanity with the outbreak last year that limited the execution of their activities.

“Permit me to express publicly my greatest gratitude to the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, His Excellency, Dr Julius Maada Bio, for the unprecedented support accorded me from the very beginning of this journey. Mr. President your support for this administration and the ECOWAS Parliament is enormous. Your advice and affectionate concern have helped us achieve greatly and I have no words to express how grateful the ECOWAS Parliament is for the support you have shown.

“Furthermore, on behalf of my colleagues, I wish to extend our deepest appreciations to Your Excellency and the wonderful people of Sierra Leone for hosting the first in-person Session of the ECOWAS Parliament during this very difficult period of the global pandemic. This is a clear demonstration of your support for not just the ECOWAS Parliament, but also for the ECOWAS’ policy on regional integration and the drive to bring ECOWAS and its organs closer to the people we serve,” he noted.

The Speaker said that the Parliament had converged on Freetown to execute a solemn responsibility in line with the Supplementary Act on the Enhancement of the Powers of the ECOWAS Parliament, adding that Article 27 (2c) provided that Parliament should endeavour to hold its Extraordinary Sessions in the respective Member States, either on the initiative of the Bureau or at the invitation of the Member State.

Expanding on the achievements made so far by his administration just one year since taking over, Speaker Tunis said “we successfully held three Delocalized Meetings in Cotonou, Bissau and Lome respectively; One Ad-hoc Committee Meeting in Lagos; the First and Second Extraordinary Sessions of 2020, held virtually; two Fact Finding Missions to Mali; five election observation missions to the Republics of Guinea, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Niger and Cote d’ Ivoire; and list of other engagements with state actors and regional organizations, all geared toward securing a peaceful, stable and prosperous region.”

On the purpose of the 1st extraordinary session 2021, Speaker Tunis said they are holding it to present and adopt a Strategic Plan for the 5th Legislature (2020-2024) of the ECOWAS Parliament. He said “the plan, which has been drafted by the Administration of the Parliament under the supervision of our outstanding Secretary General, is guided by the provisions of the Community Strategic Framework and the ECOWAS Vision.” He said that the framework will identify program areas, with themes and priority areas that would systematically assist the Parliament in executing its mandate, as defined by the Supplementary Act.

Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, President of the ECOWAS Commission, thanked President Julius Maada Bio, the Government and people of Sierra Leone for hosting them, saying that the presence of President Bio at the gathering demonstrated strong leadership and willingness to foster development in the ECOWAS community.

He further stated that the essence of their convergence was to put together a strategic plan for the 2021 that would see the organisation foster peace and promote economic diversification among member States.

“Our gathering here today builds on our democracies, security, economic infrastructure, Human Capital Development that could see a new ECOWAS,” he noted.

The President expressed confidence that the visionary leadership of Rt Honourable Sidie Mohamed Tunis will undoubtedly leave a formidable legacy at the regional ECOWAS Parliament.

Hence, the President said “it is, indeed, an honour, for all of us, Sierra Leoneans, for the first time ever, to host the 2021 First Extraordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament here in Freetown.”

Meanwhile whilst making his goodwill message at the opening session, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, His Excellency Jean-Claude Kassi Brou said the Strategic Plan is indeed an important tool to structure and make effective the action of Parliament. He said that the plan is a real compass “which is aligned with the development priorities of the Region, emphasizes the participation of people in community affairs, in accordance with the Vision of ECOWAS which is to build a “ECOWAS of Peoples”.

The President of ECOWAS Commission added that the implementation period for ECOWAS Vision 2020 has just ended. He said that “this transformational vision aimed to create a region without borders, peaceful, prosperous, based on good governance where people would have the capacity to benefit from the enormous resources of the region and exploit them by creating opportunities for sustainable development and environmental preservation.” He said in order to consolidate these achievements of Vision 2020 and to face the new challenges of our time, “the ECOWAS Commission has therefore set out to develop a Vision 2050 that will guide the Community’s actions for the next 30 years.” He acknowledged the support of the Honourable Members of Parliament is essential for mobilizing Community resources to member States.

The opening session was climaxed with a family photo of the ECOWAS Members of Parliament, President of ECOWAS Commission, Members of the ECOWAS Parliament and invited guests.


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