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Tinubu backs direct election of ECOWAS Parliament members

Democracy Day:  Tinubu vows to protect rights of every Nigerian

President Bola Tinubu on Thursday backed the proposed direct election of members of the ECOWAS Parliament.

The parliament which has 115 seats, draws members directly from the parliaments of each member state with a guaranteed minimum of five seats. The remaining 40 seats are shared on the basis of population.

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President Tinubu, while speaking at the inauguration of the sixth legislature of the ECOWAS Parliament, on Thursday, in Abuja, said the practice of directly electing public officials aligns with the democratic principles that Nigeria upholds and enhances the legitimacy of our democratic institutions.

“This principle is also in line with the spirit of the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance.

Tinubu, who is the chairman of ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, said regional solidarity was imperative to strengthen the bloc’s resilience and effectiveness at this critical juncture.

“To realise the ECOWAS ‘Vision 2050’, we require greater involvement of the people in the decision-making processes of the community. That can only be achieved through their duly-elected representatives who, being members of their national parliaments, are seconded to the community parliament. We are here, collectively, to serve all the good and great people of West Africa.

“I am aware that the ECOWAS Parliament is seeking enhanced powers, primarily through the election of its members by direct universal suffrage. This will increase the role parliamentarians must play and the responsibilities that they will assume in advancing our regional development objectives, particularly in harmonising laws and regulations across the member states.

He said as a one-time legislator, “I look forward to reviewing a proposal regarding this matter, and we stand ready to support direct election into the ECOWAS Parliament. We believe this would ensure that citizens have a direct say in their representation – in addition to the legitimacy and credibility such a process will confer,” the president said

Tinubu called on ECOWAS member states to come together, strengthen ties, and reject forces bent on causing division within the community.

He said member states could not afford to remain passive spectators while the community faces the threat of disintegration.

“We stand united against such forces and we’re committed to ensuring that our unity is unshaken. We must ensure that cooperation among us is strengthened, with a view to building a sense of common destiny and purpose. No one can do this for us. We must come together.

“To this extent, reinforcing the legitimacy of the decisions taken by the Authority of Heads of State is key in sending a message that ECOWAS is one indivisible body.