By: Rachel Quartey
The First Rapporteur of the ECOWAS Parliament Committee on Political Affairs, Peace, Security and African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), Mr. Mahama Ayariga has emphasized on the need for a strong standing army for the sub-regional bloc.
Speaking on the sidelines of the ongoing Second Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament in Abuja – Nigeria, the Ghanaian Legislator said some countries have demonstrated that they are incapable of internally dealing with the issues of peace and security, hence, the need for the sub-region to intervene in those countries.
Mr. Ayariga further pointed out that an army that is adequately resourced, will be capable of playing an effective role in this regard.
Asked whether his call is not late in coming, he said “I agree with you, but note that better late than never, and it’s a question of resources”.
He believes there are new emerging areas ECOWAS can tap into, in terms of taxing to support the sub-region.
“For instance, we have telecommunications across the sub-region. The telecom industry is playing a major role in the sub-regional countries, taxing and keeping the profits to themselves” he said.
Mr. Mahama Ayariga, suggested that countries within the sub-region can agree that if there are calls across the sub-region, a percentage of tariffs on those calls should go to ECOWAS. “For example, when I call Ghana now, there should be some tax that goes to ECOWAS”.
He added that all should be very much concerned about what happens in the sub-region.
“Whatever happens in one part of the sub-region affects everybody, what affects my constituency in Ghana can even affect neighboring countries like Burkina Faso“, he explained.
Mr. Ayariga therefore said he will not relent in supporting ECOWAS and various governments to provide peace and security in the West Africa sub- region.
“If the Government of Nigeria is in difficulties, I do expect the entire governments of West Africa to be there to help; same with Burkina Faso and I think every citizen of the sub- region should be willing to make some contribution to achieve this”.
The Ghanaian Law maker also said Authority of Heads of States and Governments, should seriously consider giving away power to some sub-regional institutions so that, they can effectively operate.
“In the area of security if they really give some national powers to a sub-regional police force or military force, I believe that it will be very effective. Sometimes, countries have their internal weaknesses; there are police force that they cannot quite control internally but sub-regional force may be able to rise above the task”.
Mr. Ayariga ended by commenting on the individual behaviors that undermine peace and security in the sub-region.
“If people know that if they misconduct themselves in their respective countries, they can be visited by a more powerful sub-regional enforcement agency, they will think twice before they misbehave” he said.