President Muhammadu Buhari has urged African leaders to promote good governance, transparency and accountability to prevent forceful takeover of governments on the continent.
President Buhari stated this on Thursday in his speech delivered by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the 51st Conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (Africa Region) in Abuja.
“It behoves African leaders, including all of us, to promote good governance, transparency and accountability, which are the institutional underpinnings of democracy,” the president said.
He called on African parliamentarians to be vigilant and ensure that the trend of military takeover seen recently in parts of Africa is prevented.
“The price of democracy is vigilance, but I must say it is not just vigilance but action.
“We must for example condemn adventurers who truncate democratic institutions by coups détat as we have seen in parts of the continent in recent times.
“We should not condemn such acts forcefully but also act decisively to nip this undesirable trend in the bud by mobilizing our countries regional organisations and international community to implement sanctions where the need arises.
“Of course, for such efforts to be credible it also behoves African leaders, including all of us, to promote good governance, transparency and accountability, which are the institutional underpinnings of democracy.
The Nigerian leader also called on the parliamentarians to come up with practical actionable recommendations to enhance the political, economic and social conditions of African people.
Speaking on the theme of the conference, “African Parliaments and the Challenge of the COVID-19 Pandemic, President Buhari noted that the pandenmi has wrecked havoc on the socio-economic life of the world, particularly in Africa.
He said that virtually all African countries have had cases of the pandemic, recording over 6 million infections and well over 150, 000 deaths.
“Already troubling levels of poverty and joblessness were worsened here in Africa and about 40 million people are estimated to have been pushed into extreme poverty as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, while unemployment in large African Commonwealth countries in Nigeria and South Africa is over 30 per cent.
“In this misery, obviously, women and girls are worst hit; indeed the lockdowns have shown to have increased school dropout rates for girls, especially from low income families; increased child marriages, adolescent child bearing and gender-based violence.
“The sharp drop in income for most families here in Nigeria and in most economies in Africa would mean that families will be making choices that will always disfavor the girl-child,” he said.
The president called on African policy makers and legislators to respond to the challenge of the covid-19 pandemic through policies that drive growth, create jobs, improve livelihoods as well as pay special attention to the needs of women and girls.
President Buhari pointed out that, in many nations, the executive and the legislature worked—and are still working—to deliver budgets and legislations to mitigate the severe economic problems in the aftermath of the pandemic.
President Buhari said that there was a distinct sense in which the difficulties created by the pandemic have provided an opportunity for countries to reinvent economies, showcasing some low-hanging fruits that should be harvested now.
He urged African countries to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, ACfTA, which most of countries have signed on to.
He explained that “The agreement affords us the opportunity of wider markets that will make our agricultural, industrial and service sectors more competitive.
“ACfTA is an opportunity for us to grow regional value chains, including by boosting infrastructural investments and scaling up of our payment systems.
“There is no reason why the current encouraging share of manufacturing in intra-African trade cannot be further increased by improving transport links in particular.
“A single African air Transport market offers us a fantastic opportunity to build a continental aviation sector that will help to move people and goods around the continent more quickly and efficiently.
“Similarly, transport corridors envisaged in the programme for infrastructural development in Africa such as the Lagos-Abidjan Corridor will certainly help to boost trade, investments and movements in Africa.
Other low-hanging fruits that President Buhari asked African countries to take advantage of in the aftermath of the covid-19 pandemic include the Pan-African payment system that is being promoted by the Afrexim Bank.
He said it “will also go a long way in reducing the transaction cost of trading within Africa by reducing the need for foreign exchange difficulties in trade between our countries.
“Africa is of course part of the global community and would be needing the support of the international community to enhance our finances and better manage our debts and ensure access to vaccines.
“Already, the international community, through the IMF, has injected about $650 billion into special drawing right into the global economy.
“However, the share that came to Africa is just over $30billion dollars, which is about 5% of the total.
This is grossly inadequate for our needs.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila said increased collaboration between African speakers was necessary to protect the interest of the continent.
“Our shared objective is to facilitate increased collaboration between speakers, heads of parliaments and national assemblies across Africa to advance African development,” Gbajabiamila, who is also the president designate the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (Africa Region), said.
In his remarks, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Stephen Twigg said that he was committed to ensure that a new legal status for the CPA was achieved.
President Buhari urges African Leaders to promote good governance