By Raphael Oni
The Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament, His Excellency Sidie Mohamed Tunis says the region will rise again stronger and more resilient in the wake of the global Covid-19 Pandemic which has greatly affected the operations of the regional parliament. He expressed this optimism in his speech at the ongoing 2020 second Ordinary Session of ECOWAS Parliament held via virtual conference.
Speaking at the session which is to deliberate on the community budget, The Speaker said the session provides the opportunity, in accordance with provisions of the Supplementary Act, for Parliament to consider the community’s budget. He also added that specifically the Parliament is expected to ensure that estimates are directed towards programs that address the needs of the people.
The Speaker admonished the regional Parliamentarians to put into consideration while debating the budget that they are now responding to the worst global pandemic in a century. In his words, “We live in an era of great uncertainty and increasing risk, overcoming these challenges in the interests of our fellow citizens should be our major priority. It is also not enough that the budget surmounts the immediate threats brought upon us by Covid-19, it should also advance efforts to make progress on other fronts and priorities which our region continues to value: democracy, rule of law, peace and conflict resolution, the fight against terrorism, poverty reduction and climate change.”
Rt. Hon Tunis noted that despite the ravaging effect of the Covid-19 pandemic in the ECOWAS region last year, the final quarter of 2020 was a very engaging period for the Parliament. According to him, “I wish to recall that though the pandemic greatly imparted our operations last year and still continues to have its toll on our programs, Parliament, however, acted with determination and swiftly implemented the necessary steps to continue its work under the current circumstances.”
He said that while the region celebrates the development of vaccines, he called on the citizens of the region to avoid complacency and continue to observe all the existing health protocols. The Speaker said, “The Pandemic still lingers and is having devastating social and economic consequences on our citizens. Regulations and restrictions previously imposed and relaxed are being reinforced. If the current trend continues, we are likely to see the imposition of more stringent measures aimed at curtailing the spread of the virus.
Mr Speaker stresses that the covid-19 protocol which include the constant washing of hands under running water, wearing of face mask, maintaining social distance and respiratory hygiene, have proven very effective in curbing the spread of the disease and we must continue to practice them at all times.
Tunis said. “Nevertheless the crisis, I am convinced, we will emerge stronger and more united.
“The challenges brought upon us by Covid-19 must become an opportunity for change: a change that leaves no one behind; a change that makes our region a model of solidarity and sustainability”.
The ECOWAS Commission presented an estimate of a consolidated 2021 budget of 398, 044, 626 dollars to the ECOWAS Parliament.