By Victoria Ojeme
DAKAR- Secretary General of ECOWAS Parliament Mr John Azumah has said that the Parliament is committed to resolving the recurring crisis between herdsmen and farmers within the region.
Azumah disclosed this yesterday in an interview with journalists at the end of the Extra-Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament held in Dakar, Senegal.
According to Azumah, parliament as representatives of the people is burdened by the issues of herdsmen and farmer’s clashes and other reports of communal violence within the community.
He said, “the Parliament has a very big role especially the members who have the opportunity to meet with the concerned communities and to be able to explain the other side of the story.”
“So if the members of parliament up their game and constantly provide information- they constantly meet these communities that are involved in these activities,- we believe strongly that we will be able to sort or mitigate the tendencies,” he said.
Azumah, observed that parliament as a body has built overtime experiences in conflict resolution as it has been involved in resolving conflicts areas such as the Mano River Union in 2012, the resolution of the Liberian civil war, and the issue of Al- Qaeda in Mali, adding the parliament was the only community institution that went to the ground to talk to the people.
“We were involved again in resolving the issue in the Sierra Leonean parliament last year after the elections when there were some problems.”
So we have built that capacity, we have built that experience. And then we believe that if we sit down and we agree as to the broad framework of how to go about the issue of herdsmen we will be able to draw the parties concerned to a table to understand the need to seize hostilities,” he said.
“Don’t forget that they have leaders and it is only when you are able to sit with the leadership of a community that you are able to arrive at their concerns and the issues that bother them that even make them express it in violent form.”
“So the parliament has that capacity coming from varied backgrounds having varied experiences, some of the parliamentarians having over twenty years of parliamentary experience in conflict resolution areas.
“We believe strongly that when we start we will be able to get the necessary information and proffer solutions. What the parliament does is to make recommendations to the authorities, the implementing bodies, for them to look into the matter and resolve the issue.
Earlier, Azumah had stated that the major highpoint of the seminar was parliament ’s confirmation of their support for the decision of the Authority of Heads State and Government in the implementation of the Single Currency in 2020.
“We are asking them to be very firm and resolute on the date, that the date should not be changed, as you may know, it has been changed severally and we think that they should be firm; there should be a political will that it should be done in 2020 and then for that matter, implemented,” he said.
He, however, observed that the lawmakers are constrained in what they can do because of the limited resources available to them, he added that same problem affects all other ECOWAS institutions.
“The issue of resources is an issue that affects all ECOWAS institutions, to tell the truth, it is not only the parliament; we have a problem and the problem is that the ECOWAS institutions generally rely on the community levy subventions, so we have had some challenges in the collection of the levy, we have had some challenges in the transmission of even the amount collected by member states, so that reduces the amount of resources available to us when we doing budgeting,” Azuma said.