The Vice President of the Republic of Liberia Chief Dr, Jewel Howard-Taylor has addressed the Opening Ceremony of the 5th Legislature of the ECOWAS Parliament scheduled from 27th May- 12th June 2021 in Abuja, the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In her splendid presentation, the Vice President acknowledged the significant role of ECOWAS in galvanizing peace and security in the region; especially that which occasioned the convergence of Heads of States and Governments in Abuja in 1995, to proffer solutions to the First Liberian Civil War, which culminated into the signing of the Abuja Accord.
Vice President Howard-Taylor expressed gratitude to ECOWAS for its military and political intervention, noting that Liberia’s pages of history are flooded with accounts of the first successful military and political intervention by a regional body in Africa which paved the way for successful interventions into civil wars across the region.
Madam Vice President applauded the Speaker and distinguished members of the ECOWAS Parliament for the adoption of the Parliament’s Strategic Plan of Action which runs from 2020-2024. She asserted that the plan coincides with the ECOWAS Commission’s Strategic Framework which contains five major goals to include socio-economic development, economic and monetary integration, political integration, societal/institutional support, and improvement of infrastructure. Madam Howard-Taylor recommended that the effective implementation of ECOWAS Parliamentary Strategic Plan of Action be based on full transparency, accountability, and oversight on the implementation of the programs and activities by the pertinent bodies of the Community.
Madam Vice President encouraged the Parliament during their deliberations at the First Ordinary Session of 2021 to consider the daunting challenges of the Community to include the slow implementation of some of ECOWAS Protocols, the existence of many travel, trade, and infrastructural barriers to the free movement of people, and the pending implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement, amongst others.
She reminded the August body of the compelling necessity to industrialize and foster trade amongst members of the Community, based on the realization that Africa is the last Global Economic Frontier Zone with an abundance of human and natural resources. Vice President Howard-Taylor was critical of the Parliament’s fight for Gender Equality; lamenting the low representation of women.
She pointed out that there are 115 members of the Community Parliament but only 20 females are members. Madam Vice President stated that the existing protocols call for a minimum of 30 percent females and recommended that the Honourable Regional Body muster the political will to fully implement the protocols which have acceded to by demonstrating commitment to gender equality.
She concluded that if 50 percent of the World’s population is excluded from governance frameworks, these structures would have at their disposal only 50 percent of the energy, innovation, and capacities of growth.
The Vice President shared platform with His Excellency Nana Akufo- Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana and Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of States and Government, His Excellency Dr. Jean- Claude Kassi Brou, President of ECOWAS Commission, His Excellency Ahmed Lawan, President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Honourable Justice Edward Amoako Asante, President of the ECOWAS Court of Justice, and RT. Hon. Dr. Sidie Mohammed Tunis, Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament.
The ECOWAS Parliament is one of the institutions of ECOWAS. It is the Assembly of the peoples of the Community, serving as a forum for dialogue, consultation and consensus for Representatives of the people of West Africa. It was established under Articles 6 and 13 of the ECOWAS revised Treaty of 1993.