Gbajabiamila: Insecurity biggest threat to well being of children
By Christiana Ekpa
President Muhammadu Buhari, as well as other stakeholders in Africa on Monday called for emergency food production to tackle looming food crisis in Africa as the results of the Russia and Ukraine war which prevented the importation of grains and other food items.
This was just as the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila disclosed that the Present democracy across the Africa continent is under threat and in retreat due to the fact that elected governments have been usurped by military juntas, overturning years of progress and the hopes of million of Africans.
The Speaker Gbajabiamila equally stressed that, the present insecurity and rampaging uncertainty across the continent represent the single biggest threat to the well-being of the Adrian’s children.
President Buhari disclosed this in Abuja, at the opening ceremony of the Conference of Speakers and Heads of African Parliaments (COSAP), with the theme: ‘Strengthening Legislative Leadership for Africa’s Development’, organised to deliberate on socio-political and economic progress in Africa and build a fairer world for all mankind.
The President who declared the conference open, was represented by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.
Buhari observed that while Africa would appear to have “faired better” in confronting the COVID-19 pandemic when compared to other parts of the world, it still recorded over 253,000 deaths, some 30million job losses and up to 40 million people being forced into poverty.
He said the frightening statistics meant that on the continent, collaborative efforts must be made by countries to speed up development and economic recovery.
In the case of Nigeria, the President told the session that it rolled out a N2.3 trillion economic stimulus package to help in mitigating the effects of the pandemic and speed up the recovery of critical sectors.
Buhari listed vaccination, increased social protection schemes for the citizenry and the need to leverage technology innovations on development plans among the recovery steps Africa should take immediately.
He thanked the speakers for initiating the CoSAP, acknowledging the importance of the legislature in sustaining democracy and growth across the globe.
Gbajabiamila who acknowledged the giant stride achieved by the continent during the scourge of the COVID-19 pandemic, in his address maintained that the onus is on the parliament to set the terms of our national development and ensure that government priorities reflect our citizens’ most pressing needs and highest aspirations.
He said “Africa has come of age. Yet there is no gainsaying that we are far from achieving the highest potential that we are able. Across the continent, democracy is under threat and in retreat. From Sudan to Mali, Guinea and Chad, elected governments have been usurped by military juntas, overturning years of progress and the hopes of millions.
“We live in a time fraught with potential and danger, and every governing decision we make and every action we take has the potential to substantially remake our world for good or ill. This is, in effect, one of those defining historical moments. And when, as is inevitable, history delivers its judgment, we will either be remembered for doing the hard and necessary things that make for progress and prosperity or be reviled for squandering the opportunity of a generation.
“I believe that all of us are here because we recognise the historical significance of this moment and have determined to be on the right side of history’s judgment.
“Even in the places where elected governments are still in charge, public faith in the governing institutions is at an all-time low. When citizens lose confidence that a democratic government can meet their expectations, democracy loses credibility and support and begins a death spiral. This is the reality in too many places across our continent.
“Many reasons have been adduced to explain how we arrived at these dire circumstances. This Conference will examine some of those reasons to understand what we need to do to correct the trajectory of our countries and continent.
“However, Ladies and gentlemen, honourable colleagues, I want to tell you today that Africa’s destiny is not set in stone. Our tomorrow is a consequence of today’s choices, the commitments we make and the priorities we choose to pursue.
“Despite the real challenges and present dangers, this is also a time of abundant promise and possibility for us in Africa. Technology has remade our world into a global village where a child with a computer and internet connection in Lagos or Addis Ababa can compete in and succeed in a global marketplace that prioritises ideas and talent over religion, ethnicity and tribe.
“As leaders in this new world, there is no decision more consequential than investing in Africa’s young people, protecting them, ensuring their health and well-being and providing them with a solid education upon which to build their future. To deliver on this obligation, we must first ensure that our nations are at peace, as this is the necessary condition for development and progress.
“The present insecurity and the rampaging uncertainty across the continent represent the single biggest threat to the well-being of our children. Therefore, we must wage the battle for peace with a warrior’s resolve because everything depends on our victory over the forces that threaten our children’s future.
“Throughout history, trade and the shared prosperity that flows therefrom have proved valuable in creating the wealth of nations and ensuring peaceful coexistence. It is imperative that we take the opportunity of this Conference to consider the role of African legislatures in facilitating our collective advancement and shared prosperity by ensuring the free movement of people, goods, and services across Africa.
“And from that consideration, let us commit ourselves to use the tools of parliamentary diplomacy and authority to set our continent irreversibly on the path to a future of honourable peace and abiding prosperity for all.
“The motto of our Conference is ‘Strengthening legislative Leadership for Africa’s Development’. This is a statement of intent borne of the recognition that achieving the highest ambitions we have for our citizens across the continent depends on our ability to provide consequential and inspired leadership in government.
“So, in addition to all else, this Conference is an opportunity for us to learn from each other, share our experiences of challenges and successes, and build relationships that will aid each of us as we serve our people and honour the mandates entrusted to us,” Hon. Gbajabiamila noted.
Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President Africa Development Bank (AfDB) in his goodwill massage said “this conference of speakers must be direct towards tackling the challenges facing our continent. Talking about the challenges it’s not enough, there must be solutions.
“The COVID-19 pandemic affected the growth and develop Africa as well the rest of the world. Africa’s confirmed COVID-19 cases stand at 11.5 million people with 253,000 deaths. Africa’s economic growth were in decline by minus -1.5 percent, over 26 million people fell further into poverty, while 30 million jobs were lost. The trajectory of economic recovery from the pandemic is shaped by access to vaccines, and on this the divergence between a developed economies and developing economies is stuck. Developed countries accounted for 63% of the people vaccinated globally, Africa our continent have only 16 percent of these people fully vaccinated which is extremely low compared to 63 percent of North America, 69 percent for Asia and so on.
“We must not be complacent, next pandemic is just around the corner, God help us. Africa must build what I call Healthcare Defense System. This must include development of local vaccines and building quality healthcare infrastructure.
“While foreign companies are now establishing vaccines manufacturing companies in some parts of Africa, we must go well beyond that. We must encourage African owned vaccines manufacturing companies. Legislations should be designed to encourage this.
“The Russian war in Ukraine has added another challenge to what we are facing in Africa. the dependency of African countries on Russia and Ukraine, the war disruption has added to looming food crisis in Africa. The African Development Bank has designed a $1.5 billion emergency food production plan to support African countries to avert the looming food crisis.
“Africa should be decoupled from food import dependency. Africa must feed itself and do so with pride. The economic recovery must be felt in day to day lives of people. The recovery must create jobs and recover jobs lost, focus on MSMEs, the recovery must focus on youths and tackle debts of Africa. The recovery will require close partnership with executive arm and legislative arm of government. Regardless of the challenges facing our country, be the solution providers, drive for an economic recovery that’s felt by all” he said
Earlier, Deputy Secretary General
of the Commonwealth
(CPA), Jarvis Matiya in his goodwill massages urged that Gender equality, Social justice, equal access to covid 19 vaccines should create more awareness in the continent
He also added that Africa plays a very key role to promote developmental democracy and gender across the world stressing that some of the recommendations from the Forum should be implemented ahead of August gathering this year which will create an impact to enhance productivity across the continent
He said COVID 19 has exposed alot in different spheres of life such as education, health among others, adding that it called for deep reflection on reversing the trend and rebuild a resilience society .
He said the African Speakers needs to use opportunity at hand with one voice to resolve issues affecting the continent.