By Fiona Freddy
Nigeria’s Senate President, Bukola Saraki has called on African leaders to begin to look inward for solutions to the myriads of problems confronting the continent.
The Senate President also called on the need for commitment and cooperation among the various arms of government in order to improve the living conditions of the people of Africa.
He stated this, Tuesday, in Abuja, at the opening ceremony of the second ordinary session of Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS Parliament in Abuja.
Saraki, who was represented by the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, identified some of the major challenges facing ECOWAS region to include hunger, displacement, environmental degradation and humanitarian crisis amongst others, expressing confidence that the region boasts of quality and qualified hands that can move the region forward.
“I have called for an international conference on the situation in the North East, to bring succour to the region and alleviate the pains and suffering of those caught in the resultant humanitarian crisis. This would be in line with similar conferences held in London to find solutions to the situation in Syria and Somalia.
“But charity begins at home, as they say. Let us never lose sight of the need to find African solutions to African problems. It is my hope that, with this assembly’s newly enhanced capacity and authorization, regional lawmakers can better work towards African solutions to the many challenges bedevilling the West African territorial space,” he said.
Highlighting the place of cooperation in fastracking development, Ekweremadu, told the ECOWAS lawmakers that the recent cooperation between the Executive and the 8th National Assembly was pivotal to Nigeria’s emergence from recession.
He commended the region for the achievement so far recorded in its bid to move from ECOWAS of States to ECOWAS of the people
“Finally, after nearly two decades of this Assembly’s existence, the ECOWAS Parliament has truly come into its own, and is further on the road to achieving it’s true destiny of proper representation for all West African citizens.
“Your Excellencies, Honourable members of Parliament, I urge you to seize the opportunity of the newly acquired, and hard won legislative powers of this assembly to defeat forces that militate against the peace and development of West Africa.
“Let us use these enhanced powers to enthrone a regional governance framework whose foundations are laid on democratic principles”, he said.
While reiterating Nigeria’s commitment to the implementation of the various protocols aimed at achieving greater regional integration, he disclosed that Nigeria is set to amend necessary laws that will facilitate the election of 35 representatives into the community Parliament.
Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Moustapha Cisse Lo, who noted that the Parliament has become more visible since the enhancement of its powers, assured that the Parliament would continue to work in synergy with other arms of the community to deliver on their mandate.
“On our part, while building on the achievement of this first half of the mandate, I can assure you that we will incredibly work hard to ensure that Parliament fully exercise the new powers conferred onto it. This present session is devoted to this responsibility since it will be dedicated, for the first time, to the consideration of the community Budget, one of the most prestigious parliamentary powers.
“We shall also continue with the other projects that we have already embarked upon, especially the visits to borders within the framework of the sensitization campaigns on the free movement of persons and goods. The same will apply to issues relating to migration, free movement, peace and security and Human Rights.”