The ECOWAS Parliament has called on the Nigerian government to reopen its closed borders as it hampers the implementation of free trade movement within the ECOWAS region.
The Speaker of the Parliament, Mr. Moustapha Cisse Lo, made the call in his opening address at the opening of the 2019 Second Ordinary Session of the fourth legislature of the ECOWAS parliament in Abuja, Nigeria.
Mr. Cisse said the border closure impede the implementation of the Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons.
“I reiterate my call for the opening of the borders between our States and the observance of the protocol on the free movement of persons and goods in the region, which aims to facilitate trade liberalisation and the removal of trade barriers between our state and our people,” he stated.
Mr. Cisse Lo however commended the initiation of the tripartite meeting between Nigeria, Niger and Benin Republic.
“I also welcome the tripartite meeting held between Nigeria, Niger and Benin here in Abuja as well as the initial resolutions aimed at putting in place a permanent framework for dialogue to address all the aspirations of the parties.”
Nigerian government had ordered the partial closure of its border with the Benin Republic, due to the massive smuggling activities, especially rice, taking place on that corridor.
The 2019 Second Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament is to consider the budget of ECOWAS institutions.
The budget session is mainly tasked with considering the draft consolidated budget of the Community for the 2020 fiscal year.
Mr. Cisse Lo said the ECOWAS Parliament would consider the budget before it is adopted by the Council of Ministers.
He reiterated the commitment of the parliament to initiate legislation that would improve the lives of the citizens of the region.
In a message, the President of the Nigerian Senate, Ahmed Lawal commended the ECOWAS Parliament for being steadfast in the resolution of the many challenges confronting the region.
Senator Lawan who was represented by the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege urged the parliament not to relent in performing its core function.
The President of the Nigerian Senate noted that ECOWAS countries were facing challenges of poverty, accountability, transparency and climate change.
He reminded the Members of Parliament that they were key to curbing the challenges in the region and advancing ECOWAS, noting that the executive relied on the guidance of parliament to perform.
“Our responsibility for legislation, appropriation and over sighting is integral part of governance, as envisioned by the framers of not just our Constitution, but in the tradition of our democracy.”
“As Parliamentarians therefore we have to be above board in the execution of these roles, not only in the spirit of the times, but most especially to deal with common challenges as a region.”
“This is my charge to us all as we converge for this Second Ordinary Session and I am confident that you are up to the task,” he said.
The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr. Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, in a message, disclosed that the region in the third quarter of 2019 witnessed a slight recovery in its economic performance.
Mr. Brou, who was represented by the Commissioner of Finance in the ECOWAS Commission, Mrs. Halima Ahmed, also condemned the continued attacks by terrorists and armed groups particularly in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.