By Alieu Ceesay, Elizabeth Chirkpi, Marcelina Ozekhome, Saffiyatu Gefe Massaquoi & Mariam Traore in Freetown
Nigeria has 35 representatives at the ECOWAS Parliament, the highest number. However, there are only two women, which according to Hon. Sidie Mohamed Tunis, Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament “is really, really not good”.
In an interview with the ECOParl Press Corp in Freetown, Sierra Leone, at the end of the two day symposium on women proportional representation in politics, organised by the ECOWAS Female Parliamentarians Association (ECOFEPA), Speaker Tunis expressed his plans to continue engaging the leadership of Nigeria on the change of status quo.
“I am hoping to engage the next Speaker of the Nigerian National Assembly and the President of the Senate to encourage them to have more women in the ECOWAS Parliament. We also want to have a special programme just for Nigeria to encourage the stakeholders and the political leadership to ensure that they have more women on their tickets, not just for the National Assembly but for even Local Government.
Speaker Tunis further stated that the Community Parliament has a whole year Programme, and the symposium in Sierra Leone is just the beginning of many to follow, to popularise the idea of 30 percent affirmative action for women.
“We are also going to have another programme [a TownHall Meeting] in Abuja before the next Ordinary Session, where we are even inviting MPs from Rwanda to come and share their experiences with us [ECOWAS Parliament]. We will also have workshops in Member States to ensure that we do not just pass laws, but to see action.”
He believes the advocacy campaign in Freetown can be organised across the sub-region to have a minium of 30 percent quota for women.
Last year, through a conversation between the Speaker and the ECOWAS Commission, the Parliament was able to secure funding for ECOFEPA’s activities.