The Economic Community of West African States’ (ECOWAS) Parliament has commended the association of the sub-regional journalists covering the activities of the Community Parliament known as Association of West African Legislative Correspondents (AWALCO) for its role in amplifying and adequately reporting the parliament’s affairs to the world.
The outgone Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Dr. Sidie Mohamed Tunis disclosed this in an interview, after his farewell speech at the 2024 First Extraordinary Session in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
Mr. Tunis said the Parliament became better and more vibrant from the robust reporting as well as criticism from AWALCO on areas that need improvement for the overall good of the ECOWAS community.
Acknowledging the press corps’ immense contribution to the Parliament’s visibility, he however, urged the community journalists under the umbrella body, AWALCO to extend similar gesture and cooperation to his successor and the sixth legislature.
“I want to first thank you… gentlemen of the press… for the support you have given this parliament under my leadership,” Tunis said.
On lessons learnt and advice for the sixth legislature, Tunis said, they must follow protocol: “Most of the challenges I faced… I was able to overcome… because I ensured that everything I did was done so by law,” Tunis emphasised, stressing adherence to treaties, rules, and regulations.
He further advised that they must resist undue influence: “There is so much temptation about the independence of the ECOWAS parliament,” he cautioned, urging future leaders to collaborate with the Commission and avoid financial autonomy that could hinder cooperation.
He further said only Universal Suffrage can firm up the legitimacy of the Parliament.
“I believe only direct elections will give real legitimacy to the ECOWAS parliament,” Tunis argued, advocating for independent resource allocation and reduced reliance on the Commission.
The outgone Speaker concluded by recommending good governance for the sustenance of democracy in the sub-region adding that human rights and anti-corruption are cornerstones of good governance.
He then advised ECOWAS leaders to uphold the principles for a better community.
“Prioritising good governance, fighting corruption is key,” he concluded.