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 ECOWAS-member 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-debt-to-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 46-year-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.