Lawmakers representing Nigeria at the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament, have commended the sustained democratic rule in Nigeria, saying it is a pacesetter in the sub-region.
The lawmakers made this known on Sunday, in an interview with newsmen, on the sidelines of the High-level Seminar of the ECOWAS Parliament.
The lawmakers therefore, called for more powers to be vested on ECOWAS instructions; Parliament, Commission and Court, to take firm actions on situations in member states.
Rep. Awaji-Inombek Abiante representing Andoni-Opobo/Nkoro Federal Constituency, Rivers, said that Nigeria’s democracy had recorded huge successes, a model ECOWAS could use as a guide for other countries in the sub-region.
“In Nigeria for the past 20 years, we have been able to sustain civilian rule, democracy, and I think that is what we should celebrate first.
“Hoping that all hands will be on deck to turn the tide, and ensure that the pedestal demands and challenges are overcome.
“ECOWAS as a body of state, can help to encourage each other by doing what we are doing, peer review essentially, to copy the best practices from other persons, improve upon what we are doing.
“There is a saying that no matter how bad democracy is, it is still better than other forms of governments,” Abiante said.
The legislator said that more powers should be given to ECOWAS as it did not have the strength, in terms of the legal instruments, to take firm actions.
“At best, what we have today still remains persuasive. Even if we make the laws, how many countries are willing to surrender their sovereignty for this and say come in and do whatever you want.
“As at today, the status does not give that guarantee that ECOWAS can come in. All ECOWAS can do is to advise, work with the regime and demand expectations within timelines.
“If they do not comply the best you can do is suspend them from the body, and that does not solve the problem,” Abiante said.
Rep. Oluyemi Adewale-Taiwo, representing Ibarapa East/Ido Federal Constituency, Oyo, said that 22 years after, Nigeria was far ahead of other ECOWAS states in terms of development and imbibing the culture of democracy.
Adewale-Taiwo said that Nigeria’s democracy witnessed its climax when an incumbent President lost an election and relinquished power peacefully to the opposition, a feat worthy of emulation by other ECOWAS countries.
“Looking critically at other West African States, you will say that what operates in those countries cannot happen in Nigeria.
“In this century, you will see coup de’ tat in other smaller countries, I do not think that can happen in Nigeria, and I think we are moving in the right direction.
“We have seen a situation whereby a ruling party was defeated in an election and handed over without any crisis.
“I believe taking Nigeria side by side with other West African countries, we are doing pretty well, though there is still room for improvement,” Adewale-Taiwo said.
The lawmaker however, said there was urgent need for legislation to give ECOWAS more power of authority to operate, adding that it was the only way the body could be more effective.
He commended the strides also achieved by ECOWAS in the past two decades.
“What can I say about ECOWAS in the past two decades? I could have given it a pat in the back, if not for these incidences that happened in Mali and Guinea.
“I believe ECOWAS should be given more power. I can liken ECOWAS to a legislature that can only advise government, but cannot take proactive actions to enforce what the legislative arm does.
“If this is given, I cannot see a situation where there will be a coup d’état, and ECOWAS cannot come in to restore the democratic structure in that country,” he said.
Rep. Kolawole Taiwo, representing Ajeromi/Ifelodun Federal Constituency, Lagos, said Nigeria had scaled almost all political hurdles and sustained its democracy.
Taiwo said that Nigeria had also effectively dealt with an attempt to amend its constitution for tenure elongation by an incumbent President.
“We have seen a situation where an incumbent tried to increase Nigeria’s tenure from two to three terms, and the National Assembly stood their grounds against it.
“When you look at what the panel has been discussing, it is like looking at Nigeria, we have seen it all, but we have been able to get out of it.
“And we are trying to encourage the Parliamentarians that way to stand against anybody that wants to use us to heat up the polity,” Taiwo said.
He urged ECOWAS to ensure democracy was sustained in member states, to ensure development and prosperity of its citizens and sub-region. (NAN)
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