By Victoria Ojeme
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has declared this year an election year partly because of the general elections coming up in Nigeria this year and similar elections in three other West African countries.
The Speaker of the ECOWAS parliament, Sidie Mohammed Tunis, speaking at the opening of the fifth Legislature of ECOWAS Parliament Extraordinary session in Guinea Bissau said Nigeria is the region’s biggest democracy and that a large chunk of its observer mission will be deployed for the polls.
“This year has been tagged “Elections Year” in the region. In a matter of weeks, our biggest democracy, the Federal Republic of Nigeria, will be holding Presidential and Legislative elections. In a few months, the Republics of Sierra Leone and Liberia will do the same. These have been preceded by Legislative elections in the Republic of Benin.
“In conformity with the established framework for election observation, we are working very closely with the ECOWAS Commission to ensure the scrupulous implementation of the provisions of Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance, relative to the holding of elections. Our Observers will be available to provide the necessary support to the Joint ECOWAS Mission, in anticipation of free, fair and transparent elections in the various countries,” Tunis said.
The Speaker assured Nigeria that ECOWAS will be fully involved in election observation across the country on the day of election and added the parliament is working very closely with the ECOWAS Commission and has signed a memorandum appointing observers who will be in Nigeria for the polls.
Tunis also condemned the killing of innocent souls in Burkina Faso and other parts of the region.
“Let me emphatically condemn the brutal killing of Innocent civilians including children in the west of Burkina Faso and other parts of the region where similar menace exists. No expression of displeasure and no religious loyalty justify the killing of Innocent people. It is barbaric, evil and must be condemned by all well-meaning citizens of this region.
“On top of all I have said, is the issue of the economy, the bread and butter issue, 2023 is not going to be a challenging year for our democracies alone but also our economies.
The IMF predicts that global growth will slow at 2.7%in 2023 and many countries will experience recession. These have been attributed to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the hike in cost of living and economic slowdown in China due to the latest hike in COVID-19 cases.
“This leaves poorer countries, like most of ours, with no option but to act aggressively to heighten monetary policies and build more multilateral cooperation to address our economic volatility.
“It is a fact that economic stagnation would usually influence the finding and implementation of projects, programmes and activities of ECOWAS; we must therefore act within our discretion to draw attention to the need to start economic choices not only in the ECOWAS institutions but in our respective member states,” Tunis added
In his opening remarks, Speaker of the Guinea Bissau National Assembly, Cipriano Cassama urged the Parliament to implement new policies and infrastructures that will speed up development technologies within the West African market.
According to Cassama, These development plans and major policies in the process of decision taking, are placed on the shoulders of parliament.
“Communities should invest more in educational programs in a way of improving the protection of the environment and health sector.” He thanked the parliament for resolving the internal crisis within the region.
Reacting to the Nigeria Election, Edwin Snowe expressed the importance of the Presidential election in West Africa.
He said Nigeria is the hub of our region and it is seen as the big Brother, not just in elections but many other activities in the region. We believe in democracy. We also look forward to a peaceful election and a result that will be accepted by all the people.
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