By Binta Jaiteh & A.Makasuba
Hon. Badara Joof, Vice President of The Gambia has said that “we don’t need conflict in the ECOWAS region, the cost of war is more expensive than the price of peace.”
The Gambian Vice President made the statement during members of the ECOWAS Parliament five-day delocalized meeting of the joint committee on Political affairs, peace and security and Africa peer and review mechanism, legal affairs and human rights, social affairs, gender and women empowerment, on the theme community text relating to peace, security, democracy and good governance; Challenges in their implementation and oversight role of ECOWAS Parliament held at Sir Dawda Kairaba Conference Centre Bijilo
Speaking on gender representation in Parliament, he said the Government of The Gambia has a deliberate policy of 30% representation this decision was taken in cabinet and is just for a question of sensitizing the public that we should change our mindset to appreciate the role of women.
According to him, the acute awareness of this is that the president created the ministry of gender women and children affairs and it shows a conscious policy to promote women’s participation and we will continue doing that.
“The fact that ECOWAS has come together and I think it is one of the strongest regional blocs in Africa. ECOWAS parliament, ECOMIG, and other institutions that are coming together and I think that should be consolidated and build a bond as we come together and we can make a difference in the lives of our people” he said
He noted that political democracy leads to partisan politics and ignores the idioms of development but development democracy reduces poverty and conflict and that is the challenge I am putting to you all in promoting development democracy.
He also said ECOWAS member states collaborate in the advancement of the ECOWAS community.
“You people are the custodian of law and representative of people as you hold institutions to account and it depends on your efficiency and proactiveness in the execution of your duty,” he said
However, he said acquiring comprehensive socio-economic development is anchored in partnership, cooperation, coordination, and collaboration and that is what I see in ECOWAS member’s states adding that you people are the custodians of law
Edwin Snowe, chairman committee on Political affairs, peace, and security ECOWAS said the meeting will be based on discussing community threats and challenges in the implementation of our oversight roles of the ECOWAS Parliament.
For his part, Fabakary Tombong Jatta also told West African lawmakers to be transparent in managing the affairs of their people to allow peace and security to prevail.
He described peace and security as “the bedrock on which all development efforts are anchored.”
“This is obvious because, without peace and security, our member states will not be able to implement effective economic policies, enforce the rule of law, attract business investments, and deliver public infrastructure and services.
“However, to achieve peace and security require first and foremost justice. This implies that our governments must be transparent in the way and manner they manage the affairs of the people, deliver governance by the dictates of the principles of democracy and rule of law, and above all be accountable to the people. Parliamentarians are the gatekeeps of this accountability through their legislative and oversight functions,” he said.
Hon Fatoumata Njai, a member of the Gambian delegation to the ECOWAS Parliament highlighted the need to extend the tentacles of the delocalised meetings by widening the scope of representation. She said the meeting structure should vary from a regular session of the Parliament.
The main objective of the meeting is to create an opportunity for the Members of the Joint Committee to take greater ownership of the ECOWAS Texts on peace and security, democracy, and good governance and identify the best mechanism for oversight for their effective implementation.