President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday noted that the global economic downturn has negatively affected countries in the West African subregion causing serious hardship to its citizens.
President Buhari stated this at opening session of the 2022 Second Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament in Abuja.
The President urged the Legislature to consider its budget with diligence and bear in mind the various contributions the countries make in terms of levy.
He commended Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Dr. Sidie Tunis, for what he said is the commitment and sacrifice he is making towards promoting regional integration and strengthening democracy and good governance in our sub-region.
The President acknowledge the progress that has been made by the ECOWAS Parliament since the inception of the 5th Legislature, in March 2020.
He said: “Specifically, your contributions to the efficient and effective implementation of the objectives and policies of the Community, including the strengthening of representative democracy, have been outstanding.
“I must also commend you for the tremendous efforts you have invested in making the Parliament visible and relevant to the people of the ECOWAS region.
“I am aware that over the period of the tenure of this legislature, our people have begun to regard the Parliament as the true representative of their voice and a dependable ally. I, therefore, seize this opportunity to thank the Leadership and all Honourable Members for a job well-done.
“As this Second Session of the ECOWAS Parliament will be expected to consider the Community Budget among others, let me emphasize that the global economic downturn has deeply affected the economies of our sub-region and resulted in dire economic hardships for the citizens of the Community.
“I, therefore, urge you to perform your sacred responsibility of considering the Community budget with diligence, while bearing in mind the sacrifice of various countries in the payment of Community Levy. I urge you to remain conscious of the many challenges besieging the region and be sensitive to the needs of the people.”
President Buhari reaffirmed Nigeria’s commitment to ECOWAS efforts, with the support of the nation’s partners to keep the region peaceful, secure and politically stable.
He noted that in this regard, Nigeria remains committed to supporting ECOWAS to restore democratic rule in Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso.
While noting that some of the countries in the region including Nigeria, will be engaged in political activities in 2023, the President reiterated his commitment to bequeath a legacy of free, fair and credible polls to West Africa.
According to him, “We are convinced that the sustenance of democracy and the rule of law should remain the norm in this promising region.
“As you are aware, there will be multiple political activities in some ECOWAS Member States, including Nigeria, where general elections are due to hold in February and March 2022.
“Let me seize this opportunity to reiterate my commitment to free, fair and transparent elections and smooth transitions. This is one legacy that I want my administration to bequeath, not only to Nigeria, but to the region as a whole.
“At the regional level, Sierra Leone and Liberia are also preparing for elections. As in the past, Nigeria is ready to stand by any country in the region that is committed to organising free and fair elections.
“On the issue of election of Members of the ECOWAS Parliament by Direct Universal Suffrage, Mr. Speaker will recall that I gave Nigeria’s assurance to support the process, provided it is conducted with minimum or even at no cost at all, to the Community.
“Let me underscore that the ECOWAS Parliament can only fulfill its true mandate when it has a set of directly elected and dedicated Members.
“I believe that a membership of the ECOWAS Parliament, not drawn from serving members of Parliaments of Member States, would be a good step towards injecting our regional integration with new energy and initiative.“