OrderPaperToday – Only 2% of persons within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) region have been vaccinated against the dreaded Covid-19 disease, thereby fueling concerns by members of the regional parliament.
The lawmakers accordingly advocated for prevention measures to cut down on vaccine reliance on the international community.
They raised this concern, among others, following debate on the presentation of the 2021 report of the region by the ECOWAS Commission by the Vice President, Madam Finda Koroma during the ongoing 2021 Second Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS parliament held in Abuja, on Wednesday.
According to the report presented by the ECOWAS Commission, only 2% of the entire population has received full dose of the COVID-19 vaccine across the sub-region.
A member of the Parliament from Nigeria, Mr. Abiante Awaji Mnobek, expressed reservations concerning the report by the Commission, saying “I have looked at the figures put in out for vaccination in the region and I’m worried it falls below average considering that in Europe over 80% of their population has been vaccinated.”
He also spoke on security within the sub-region,: “The issue of maritime security is a major setback. Why has it been so difficult to have such synergy to collaborate to fight this menace? Is it not possible to leverage on what has already been put in place in regard to maritime security? Leaders should use the instrument that brought them to power to come up with a more holistic approach to solve these problems rather changing the constitution every now and then to suit their selfish interest.”
Supporting his position on the issue of insecurity in the ECOWAS region, the Deputy Speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, Idris Wase, warned against proliferation of small arms across border communities in the sub-region.
“I appreciate the presentation of the report by the ECOWAS Commission but my concern is this: insecurity in our region has taken a new dimension and we have to find lasting solution because this is affecting food production in the region. Now that our boarders are opened we have to check the proliferation of small arms in our various boarders.
“For instance, the continued attack by boko haram in our country Nigeria is causing famine. This is not a good one for us because the farmers are greatly affected.”
In his reaction, the Speaker of the ECOWAS parliament, Sidie Tunis who presided over the session, appealed for intelligence gathering and sharing amongst countries of the region.
“One of the key aspects where you have insecurity is that of intelligence sharing. The key tool is intelligence. The fifteen countries, we have set up a platform with all security agencies for intelligence sharing because if we do not have intelligence sharing, it is impossible to effectively fight and counter terrorism; that is the first point. We just held a meeting of all the Chief of Defense Staff of the fifteen Member Countries to see how certain issues can be addressed. We have the challenge of training and for that we are working with all security officials of the fifteen Member States with a view to improving security measures.
Speaking on the COVID-19, he said “it is true that we are largely at low rates of the vaccine and we need to spike this rate. One of the major concerns is the availability of vaccines. We spoke about 48 million available doses with different initiatives but Member States on their own at the bilateral stage so today is not about having the money but is about the availability.
“In terms of funding we have COVAX initiative (and) each country on its own is deploying its own budgetary resources to acquire vaccines so I believe it is a combination of all these efforts that will help us to boost the rate of vaccination. It is true that in some countries there have been a lot of challenges with sensitization and we know countries where the programme started very slowly despite availability of vaccines in that country and it was not until after several months that the rate of vaccination increased. Ministers of Health of the fifteen countries have met more times just to coordinate and take actions to address the various challenges, vaccination, availability and so, there is very close coordination. The situation of recent has improved and now in most countries where the vaccines exist things are working smoothly.”