Workshop works out common parliamentary system for West Africa

The Secretary-General of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament, Dr. Nelson Magbagbeola

The Secretary-General of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament, Dr. Nelson Magbagbeola has canvassed the need to have a West Africa that is no longer a hotbed of conflicts, wars and terrorism.

Rather, he urged that measures should be taken to achieve a region characterized by peace, stability and economic prosperity. The charge was given at the on-going four-day training workshop for parliamentary staff of Anglophone, Francophone and Lusophone countries with the theme: “Comparative Legislative Practice and Procedure”.

He hinged the importance of the workshop on the need to harmonize the existing three different sets of parliamentary practices and procedure in West Africa, noting that while the francophone and Lusophone legislative practices and procedure are tailored along the French and Portuguese systems respectively, the Anglophone system could either follow the British House of Commons system of the American Congressional system or a hybrid of the two systems.

“Thus, within the framework of economic integration and a borderless community, it is therefore, necessary to exchange ideas with a view to harmonizing the existing practices and procedure in the ECOWAS member States.

“The harmonization process will enhance the growth of democratic system within the ECOWAS sub-region; today, the harmonization process begins with this training workshop” Magbagbeola stated.

He also stressed the need for the workshop to bridge the gap between the legislative arm and the executive arm of governments, to make for seamless administration.

The ECOWAS Parliament secretary general assured that the workshop, which was organized by the National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS), an organ of the National Assembly of Nigeria in collaboration with the ECOWAS parliament and the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), would improve the needed skills of parliamentary staff of ECOWAS member States.

In his remarks, the director of Research and Training, NILS, Abuja, Dr. Adeyemi Fajingbesi said one of the major problems confronting governance all over the world is the need to ensure that the legislature, which is one of the three arms of government, is rich and equipped with the requisite skills for good governance in a democracy.

He asserted that the legislature has suffered greatly in West Africa due to coups and counter coups because whenever this occurs, it is often the arm to be sacked, which in turn has contributed greatly in impeding its growth and development.

“The objective of this particular workshop among others is to bring the legislature up to the standard of development in terms of skills and functionality as we find among the executive arm in all countries of the world.

“So, this training programme is targeted at the legislative staff and not really the legislature” he said. A former Speaker of the National Assembly of Burkina Faso and erstwhile member, ECOWAS Parliament, Prof. Ambassador Melegue Traore underscored the importance of the quality of legislation in the sub-region and how parliaments can control the public policies of the administration as well as parliamentary diplomacy.

“It is important to say that we need strong governments, but we also need such parliaments that would ensure things are moving on well,” he said.

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