By Abdul Malik Bangura
President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, His Excellency Julius Maada Bio has expressed confidence that the visionary leadership of Rt Honourable Sidie Mohamed Tunis will undoubtedly leave a formidable legacy at the regional ECOWAS Parliament.
His Excellency President Bio made this statement during his remarks on the occasion of the opening ceremony of the fifth legislature of the first 2021 extraordinary session of the ECOWAS Parliament currently on going in Freetown, Sierra Leone between 29th March and 2nd April 2021.
During his statement as head of state of the home country of the Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament, His Excellency President Bio said as a country, Sierra Leone welcome one of our own, the Rt. Hon Sidie Mohamed Tunis.
Permit us, as a country, to thank this august body for unanimously electing him Speaker of this Assembly during your inaugural session in Niamey, Niger on 9th March 2020.â€Â
The President expressed extreme sentiment that Honourable Sidie Mohamed Tunis cares very deeply about the advancement of the African Continent and its peoples.â€
In addition, President Bio said that Sierra Leone commends the ECOWAS Parliament for its contribution to the promotion of peace, security, democracy, and good governance in the region as demonstrated in the deployment of election observation missions that monitored elections in Member States.â€
Hence, the President said â€œit is, indeed, an honour, for all of us, Sierra Leoneans, for the first time ever, to host the 2021 First Extraordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament here in Freetown.
On his side, the Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament, Rt Honourable Sidie Mohamed Tunis during his opening speech said Freetown and indeed the whole of Sierra Leone is very delighted and proud to receive the ECOWAS Parliament and â€œall of her rich culture and hospitality are yours to enjoy.â€
HE Tunis expressed gratitude to the President, His Excellency, Dr. Julius Maada Bio, for the unprecedented support accorded him from the very beginning of his journey to take over the leadership of ECOWAS Parliament. He said that the support of the President of Sierra Leone for his administration and the ECOWAS Parliament is enormous, adding that â€œyour advice and affectionate concern have helped us achieve greatly and I have no words to express how grateful the ECOWAS Parliament is for the support you have shown.â€Â He said the President’s support is a â€œclear demonstration of not just the ECOWAS Parliament, but the ECOWAS policy on regional integration and the drive to bring ECOWAS and its organs closer to the people we serve.â€
Expanding on the achievements made so far by his administration just one year since taking over, Speaker Tunis said we successfully held three Delocalized Meetings in Cotonou, Bissau and Lome respectively; One Ad-hoc Committee Meeting in Lagos; the First and Second Extraordinary Sessions of 2020, held virtually; two Fact Finding Missions to Mali; five election observation missions to the Republics of Guinea, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Niger and Cote dâ€™ Ivoire; and list of other engagements with state actors and regional organizations, all geared toward securing a peaceful, stable and prosperous region.â€
On the purpose of the 1st extraordinary session 2021, Speaker Tunis said they are holding it to present and adopt a Strategic Plan for the 5th Legislature (2020-2024) of the ECOWAS Parliament. He said â€œthe plan, which has been drafted by the Administration of the Parliament under the supervision of our outstanding Secretary General, is guided by the provisions of the Community Strategic Framework and the ECOWAS Vision. He said that the framework will identify program areas, with themes and priority areas that would systematically assist the Parliament in executing its mandate, as defined by the Supplementary Act.
Meanwhile whilst making his goodwill message at the opening session, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, His Excellency Jean-Claude KassiBrou said the Strategic Plan is indeed an important tool to structure and make effective the action of Parliament. He said that the plan is a real compass which is aligned with the development priorities of the Region, emphasizes the participation of people in community affairs, in accordance with the Vision of ECOWAS which is to build a ECOWAS of People’s.
The President of ECOWAS Commission added that the implementation period for ECOWAS Vision 2020 has just ended.
He said that â€œthis transformational vision aimed to create a region without borders, peaceful, prosperous, and based on good governance where people would have the capacity to benefit from the enormous resources of the region and exploit them by creating opportunities for sustainable development and environmental preservation.â€ He said in order to consolidate these achievements of Vision 2020 and to face the new challenges of our time, â€œthe ECOWAS Commission has therefore set out to develop a Vision 2050 that will guide the Community’s actions for the next 30 years.â€ He acknowledged the support of the Honourable Members of Parliament is essential for mobilising Community resources to member states.
The opening session climaxed with a family photo of the ECOWAS Members of Parliament, President of ECOWAS Commission, Members of the ECOWAS Parliament and invited guests.