The Guardian (Nigeria)

Get vaccinated, COVID- 19 jabs safe, ECOWAS Parliament begs citizens

Presents 2022 budget, prioritise­s security, economic developmen­t

- From Oludare Richards, Abuja

SPEAKER of the Economic Community of West African States ( ECOWAS) Parliament, Dr. Sidie Tunis, has encouraged the citizens to be vaccinated and shun conspiracy theories, stating that the COVID- 19 jabs were safe.

Tunis made the appeal in Winneba, Ghana at the opening of the Second Extraordin­ary Session of the legislatur­e to consider and adopt its draft budget for 2022.

He said the call followed the rising infections across the sub- region.

His words: “As it stands, the third wave of the pandemic seems to be stabilisin­g across our states, but cases are still high.

“The West African Health Organisati­on ( WAHO) reported a total of 649,077 cases across the region as of October 14, 2021. On the vaccine front, more doses are getting into arms daily.

“And we seize this moment to appreciate our partners under the COVAX Initiative and friendly government­s that have donated doses to African countries.

“However, the percentage of African population fully vaccinated, which is a little over 2.47 per cent, according to the Africa Centre for Disease Control, is appallingl­y low.”

Tunis continued: “Much as the unavailabi­lity of the vaccine is an issue to consider, we also frown on the conspiracy theories that have created fear about the vaccines among our population.

“I, therefore, wish to use this podium, as I have always done, to send a clear message to our citizens that the vaccines are safe and should be taken once they are available.”

He said the parliament had been examining the pandemic closely and was disturbed by the region’s relapse into recession due to the virus.

“This will ultimately erase the progress we have made over the past two decades,” Tunis added.

While presenting the budget, the Speaker noted that the financial document placed emphasis on supporting programmes that address core areas of civil liberties, rule of law, accountabi­lity, transparen­t governance, peace and security, as well as economic developmen­t.

Leaders of the 15 ECOWASmemb­er countries had targeted a monetary and currency union by the end of 2020, but abandoned the timeline due to divergence.

They were far from the macroecono­mic convergenc­e, especially similar levels of inflation and sufficient­ly low public- debtto- GDP ratios, necessary for such a union to function well.

The emergence of the novel Coronaviru­s, with its massive economic and health consequenc­es, pushed any proposed union to the back burner for nations in the 46year- old economic bloc.

However, the Speaker quoted Article 27/ 2a of the Supplement­ary Act, which provides that the parliament “shall meet in extraordin­ary session to discuss a specific agenda,” explaining that the specific agenda of the session in this regard, was to consider and adopt the 2022 budget.

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