Members of the ECOWAS Female Parliamentary Association (ECOFEPA) have joined the global chorus of condemnations against the kidnappings of close to 300 secondary school girls in Nigeria.
The members made their voices heard recently during a solidarity meeting with the First Lady of the Republic of Nigeria, Patience Goodluck Jonathan, whose husband has been firm on his toe s in bringing the girls to safety.
Gunmen from the militant group Boko Haram had stormed a school outside the remote north-eastern town of Chibok on 14 April, carting away some 270 girls in trucks. More than 50 have since escaped but at least 200 remain in captivity. Since their abductions, there have been global condemnations by people of all backgrounds including First Lady Michelle Obama of US, 'bravest girl' Mala and so many other high-profile personalities. However, little progress has been made in the recovery process thus far.
But speaking in Abuja on the sidelines of the Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament, the female parliamentarians condemned the infamy of the Boka Haram terrorist group in its entirety, using the opportunity to sympathise with the family members and the abducted young girls.
Speaking to the Daily Observer on her return from Nigeria, The Gambia's National Assembly member (for Jeshwang) and the president of ECOFEPA, Hon. Haddy Nyang-Jagne, said the issue of Boko Haram and the ugly scourge of terrorism was discussed with First Lady Jonathan.
"The Nigerian First Lady described the ECOWAS Female Parliamentarians' Association as a conclave of patriots and sub-regional builders and advised that we be each other's keeper for the betterment of the sub-region," Hon. Jagne told the Daily Observer.
Among other key issues they discussed with the First Lady, she indicated, included women empowerment and affirmative action on women representation in appointive and elective positions, the security challenges in the sub-region, especially the scourge of terrorism and insurgency in some parts of Nigeria, and so on.
"In the course of the session, female parliamentarians received and dissected the state for the community report as tendered by the president of the Commission as well as the country reports. The reports gave clearer and more in-depth pictures of the developments, challenges and progress in the community. With such knowledge, the ECOWAS parliament is now in a better position to follow through on the community programmes and make necessary inputs and interventions. The session will be remembered especially for the commissioning of the refurbished parliamentary complex and the laying of the foundation stone for a new office building for female parliamentarians," she concluded.