New ECOWAS Speaker pledges to enshrine accountability

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The new Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament, Mohammed Tunis, has promised to enshrine accountability in the activities of institutions of the community.

Speaking with newsmen on Tuesday in Niameh, Niger Republic on the sidelines of the on-going inaugural session of the 5th Legislature, Tunis said that citizens of the community deserve to know how their resources are spent.

The Speaker who already mooted plans to establish a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in the parliament, said that he intends to check corruption within the community by ensuring better accountability.

He recalled with displeasure certain cases of corruption recorded in some ECOWAS Institutions, saying that the proposed committee would be able to address the challenges.

“In the first place, we are all aware of the fact that on several occasions, at different times, we have had situations of corruption in the commission and other ECOWAS Institutions.

“I believe that while the commission may be doing everything possible to ensure transparency and accountability, I do not see any neutral player in all of these to look into issues after the Auditor General’s report.

“In all parliaments, parliamentarians serve like the buffer: in our national parliament when the auditor general finishes his report, he will bring it to parliament where they will look at it independently.” he said.

He insisted that the right thing is for the report to be debated by the parliamentarians and all grey areas be addressed.

Tunis decried the situation where if there are issues with the report of the Auditor General, it is still the auditors that will address the issue.

“This to me does not add up at all.

“So my plan is to have this committee, prevail on the Authority of Heads of State through the Commission to approve it so it becomes a Standing Committee in the Parliament.

“So whenever there are audit reports, it comes to that committee and they have public hearings so that the public know exactly what is happening to their resources.

“I am very determined, in this particular parliament we will start with ourselves, we are going to ensure that there is transparency, we must be able to account for the monies that have been entrusted to us,” he said.

The Parliamentarian expressed commitment to enhance women and gender issues in the parliament and among member states.

According to him, he said that women must be encouraged to participate, urging all member states to fully implement the affirmative action for women.

He expressed disappointment at the abysmally low representation of women in the 35-member delegation from Nigeria.

He called on Nigeria to extend its big brother role to exemplifying gender parity in their election and appointment of delegates.

“One of the key areas that I am really looking at is to ensure that I empower women groups and networks across the ECOWAS region so that they will be able to participate in politics.

“Everybody is talking about affirmative action at our National Parliaments where we give women 30 per cent quota in governance be it in executive, legislature and the MDAs.

“But there has to be a starting point.

“So this is one area I am looking at to ensure that we have female participation in politics, not just politics but all mediation levels, women play very important roles in these things,” he said.

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