By Linus Aleke
The Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament, Hon. Sidie Mohamed Tunis has given reasons why the Parliament under his leadership will not prioritize the fight against terrorism in West Africa.
The Speaker who gave this reason why addressing parliamentarians during a close door session at the ongoing 2023 First Ordinary Session in Abuja, said that his country is not part of the coastal states that are been ravaged by terrorism.
Hon. Tunis allegedly told Parliament that his administration will not prioritize support to the fight against terrorism because his country, Sierra Leone and others surrounding her are not plagued by terrorism.
Counter-terrorism operations in the region should not be my priority as a Speaker, because it does not affect my country, he was alleged to have said.
Hon. Abdoulaye Vilane, a member of Parliament from Senegal, who made this disclosure in an interview with ThisNigeria, added that such a reckless comment is unacceptable.
He also alleged corruption in the Parliament, disclosing that the booking of fight tickets for MPs is usually shrouded in secrecy.
“We are always not allowed to know how much our tickets cost. If someone is not profiting from it, why booking of common tickets for lawmakers be a secret,” he queried.
While giving a reason why the Parliament is begging for a venue or renting one during an ordinary session in Abuja, Hon. Vilane, further alleged that “the Speaker and some of the directors at the Parliament who will be retiring this year, prefer to rent hall where they will inflate the price of the facility for pecuniary gains instead of fixing the air conditioning at the Parliament”.
Earlier at the plenary, a Member of Parliament from Sierra Leone, Hon. Shiaka Musa Sama said, that he doesn’t understand what MPs mean when they talk about terrorism of a thing.
“How do these terrorists look like? How do they operate? We in Sierra Leone don’t have terrorists, what we have is rebels. If you interact with these MPs privately, they will tell you that there are foreign collaborators but when they come to the Parliament they will be mute about that. Their country reports will also not mention the country that is funding or supporting these terrorists,” he lamented.
Hon. Sama also alleged that Nigerian MPs only stroll in to sign attendance and disappear, saying that the session is held in Nigeria and they don’t sit to listen to issues or contribute to the debate.
He noted that it is not only Nigeria that had elections, saying that most of them from Sierra Leone and Liberia are also going into elections but had abandoned their campaign to be here, whilst Nigerian MPs cannot participate actively in a session held in their own country.
In a swift response, a Nigerian MP told Hon. Sama that most Nigerian MPs are busy with induction programmes as the country is in transition.
He said that Sierra Leone elections cannot in any way be compared to Nigeria’s general elections, adding that the coming elections in Sierra Leone is only compared to local government elections in Nigeria.
When contacted, the Speaker’s legislative aide who did not want his name in print, admitted that the Speaker said his country is not affected by terrorism.
He, however, explained that he made that comment while exchanging jokes with parliamentarians during the close door session.
He noted that the Speaker’s position on the fight against terrorism is public knowledge as he had espoused strong strategies on how to tackle the menace of terrorism in West Africa.
Hon. Tunis, he said, is very passionate about peace and tranquillity in the region and must do anything within his power to ensure that terrorism becomes a thing of the past in the subregion.
He noted that leaking jokes exchanged between the Speaker and other MPs during a close door session is not only mischievous but an attempt to score cheap political goals.
He counseled journalists not to allow selves to be used to advance the cold war between the Speaker and some MPs, who are bent on bringing the Speakers name to disrepute.