Hon Members, the House now Sits in a Committee of the Whole.
Hon Members, it is my singular honour to introduce to you our distinguished visitor, His Excellency, Prof. Mathurin Coffi Nago, President of the National Assembly of Benin and current Chairman of the Conference of Speakers and Presiding Officers of Parliaments of West African States.
His Excellency, Prof. Mathurin Coffi Nago, is accompanied by a-ten (10) Member delegation from the National Assembly of Benin. They are:
Madame Amoudatou AHLONSOU -- Member of Parliament
Monsieur Emile TOSSOU -- Member of Parliament
Monsieur Evariste SINKPOTA -- Member of Parliament
Monsieur Julien HOUNKPE -- Legislative Advisor
Monsieur Kouassi GUIDI -- Head of Protocol
Madame Florine NAGO -- Asst. to Head of Protocol
Monsieur Antonin Grégoire DOSSA -- Head of Security
Monsieur Henri ZINWOTA -- Chef Service Communication
Monsieur Firmin GBEKAN -- Attaché de Presse
Monsieur Pascal ZOHOUN -- Cadreur.
On behalf of this august House and indeed, on my own behalf, I extend to them the warmest welcome of the people of Ghana who are ably represented by the Hon Members of Parliament assembled in this Chamber.
It is important to acknowledge this visionary leadership and foresight of the late Mr Justice Daniel Francis Annan, Speaker of the First and Second Parliaments of the Fourth Republic of Ghana and his colleague Speakers of West Africa at the time, who laid the foundation for and established this Conference of Speakers and Presiding Officers of Parliaments of West African States.
Those of you Hon Members who have survived several election cycles would recall that the Inaugural Meeting of the Conference of Speakers and Presiding Officers of Parliaments of West African States was held in Accra in our Parliament, specifically in the Speakers Conference Room in the year 1999. Subsequent meetings of the Conference were held in
Ouagadougou in the year 2000 and in Abuja in the year 2001.
These initiatives, which aimed at building legislative harmony in pursuit of the wellbeing of the citizens of the Community, were extremely significant as they preceded the establishment of the ECOWAS Parliament.
Unfortunately, the Conference entered a dormant state after the exit of its pioneers. It is therefore, heartwarming, that through the efforts of His Excellency, Prof. Mathurin Coffi Nago and His Excellency Senator Ike Ekweremadu, Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, who jointly hosted us to an excellent and rewarding Meeting in Abuja in September, 2013, the Conference is being re-activated and consolidated through practical preparatory steps including the commencement of the process of drafting a Charter.
We have indeed, taken the opportunity of His Excellency's visit to deliberate on ways of further deepening the already strong and mutually beneficial bilateral relations existing between our two countries and in particular, our two Parliaments. Indeed, last year, I did honour an invitation extended to me by His Excellency the President of the National Assembly to address the Opening Session of the National Assembly of Benin.
Hon Members, those of you who have been in this House for more than a decade would recall that in the year 2004, I was a Member of the Ghana Parliamentary Delegation which honoured a similar invitation to the Opening Session of the National Assembly of Benin and thereafter engaged in sports diplomacy. Those were exciting historic moments when Ghana's
Parliamentary Football Team fielded stars such as the current Minority Leader in a football match with their Beninois counterparts.
I would end my introductory remarks by re-iterating our sincere welcome to our distinguished visitors to Ghana and to our historic Chamber. May I take this opportunity to say some few words about the Speaker of the Benin Parliament.
Prior to becoming the Speaker, he was the Minister for Higher Education, Scientific Research and Professional Studies in 2006.
Prof. Coffi Nago is a celebrated scholar in Africa and he had a number of counterparts in our respective universities here. He is a founding member of the National Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters in Benin.
From 1988 to 2000, he was the Vice President of the African Council of Food and Nutrition.
He served as a Member of the Steering Committee of the International Nutrition Planners Forum from 1991 to 1995 and since 1980, he has been a Member of the Association for the Advancement of Agricultural Sciences in Africa.
He has been a Member of the International Union of Nutrition Sciences since 1985.
Prof. Coffi Nago holds a Doctorate Degree with specialization in Industrial Food Biochemistry from the University of Paris, Ensia and a Doctorate in the Sciences from the University of Paris, Denis Diderot.