Address of DR. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, President of the Senate, at 73RD executive committee session & 41st conference of Speakers of APU at ECOWAS Commission, Abuja on Thursday.
I am honoured to be at the Opening of the 73rd Executive Committee Session and the 41st Conference of the African Parliamentary Union (APU). On behalf of the Executive Members of the National Assembly of Nigeria, I welcome African parliamentarians to Abuja for this gathering of the peoples’ representatives from all over this great continent of ours.
Let me thank the APU for granting the hosting rights of both meetings to Nigeria. I am sure that these events will go down in the annals of the African Parliamentary Union as time well spent, both in terms of the objectives of the meetings and memorable experiences in our serene capital city. Let me assure you that we are committed to doing all in our power to ensure positive outcomes on all fronts. To all our special guests from all over the continent of Africa, we bid you welcome.
This kind of gathering is important, and gives hope about the future of our continent. It is in gatherings such as this that we come together to map out the common threads in issues affecting our countries, come up with ideas for resolving those issues, and chart a greater future for Africa. Seeing you all, eminent parliamentarians from all over Africa, I am even more convinced of the need for fora such as the African Parliamentary Union Conference. Without doubt, we as legislators need to do a lot more to share ideas and work together to devise new and effective strategies for addressing the many challenges we face.
The themes of this 73rd Executive Session and Conference of Speakers are entirely apposite, and are perfect primers for homing in on some of the challenges of the moment. Indeed, the themes – ‘The Role of Parliaments in the Fight Against Terrorism, Armed Gangs and Organised Crime in Africa’ and ‘The Promotion of Private Investment as a Major Factor in Economic Development in Africa’; as well as the Sub-Theme: ‘The Promotion of Girls Education as an Efficient Way to Fight Early Marriages in Africa’ – are instructive, and germane to our efforts to stimulate economic growth on our continent.
It is sobering to note that the economies of many African countries are not growing above the ballpark rate of 3 per cent. Populations are growing exponentially, and we have a huge youth demographic looking to government to secure their future. We as legislators must play our role in tackling the many hindrances in the way our people’s wellbeing, particularly the crippling issue of poverty. On the cardinal points of corruption, good governance and terrorism, we as legislators should see to it that we provide the required support to the Executive, especially by way of strong and purposeful legislation. Ours is a key role, and we see the Executive coming together with us to review the laws as may be necessary, to meet new realities.
It is clear that, in order to achieve desired outcomes in the fight against terrorism and pursue growth and development, we must adopt both regional and Africa-wide strategies. African governments should be supportive of one another and put up a united front. The legislature is at the vanguard of this. Collaboration is essential. We must share ideas and mechanisms for overcoming the challenges, and this Conference is a most effective platform for doing so.
These challenges are common to us all, and we must respond accordingly, with a common purpose. Terrorism and organised crime recognise no borders. Africa’s problems require African solutions. Collective effort is needed. We must therefore ask ourselves as legislators: what role are we playing? How have we supported the Executive in dealing with these matters? You will agree with me that legislation is key in fighting crime and terrorism. If you look at the developed countries, it is through legislation that they have stayed on top of these issues.
I appeal to us all, therefore, as African parliamentarians, to come together more regularly to share ideas about the issues confronting our countries and the continent at large. We must find common solutions to common problems. Let us share experiences, and combine legislative approaches in these areas. More so than ever, there is the need for partnership, greater cooperation, collaboration and support.
Permit me to reiterate that good relationship with the Executive is essential. It is important that the Executive sees us as partners in progress, and we too see them as our partners in progress. It is through effective collaboration between the arms of government in individual countries, and cooperation among African parliaments in general, that we can defeat terrorism. There is no other way. We need to make Africa safe, and we must talk together and work together to achieve our objectives.
In closing, permit me to say that the nucleus of legislative power in each country should not be neglected. Charity, they say, begins at home. In this scenario, it means that, in order to effectively collaborate across borders for continental peace and progress, the legislature must first collaborate from within. I would, therefore, encourage better relationship between members and the leadership of parliament in individual countries. This is the foundation of the continental relationship we are striving for, and it would give much needed Filip to the work of the African Parliamentary Union.
It is therefore my expectation that, by the end of these meetings, we will have made significant gains in addressing the issues identified by the theme of this Conference. I also hope that, through constructive engagement and conversations, we will gain better insight from sister parliaments to enable us find common solutions to common problems, so that we can take a leap forward towards the Africa of our dreams.
PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE
Picture shows President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki (right) presenting his address at the opening of the 73rd Session of Executive Committee and 41st Conference of Speakers of the African Parliamentary Union (APU), in Abuja.