The Speaker, Nigerian House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila has urged African Parliamentarians to develop legislations for accelerated development through science, technology and innovation.
According to him, this will fast track economic recovery from the devastative effects of the Covid-19 Pandemic.
This was one of the key issues raised at the first meeting of the Conference of Speakers and Heads of African Parliaments, COSAP, being held in Abuja.
The conference with the theme “Enhancing Africa’s Post-COVID Economic Recovery through Parliamentary Leadership” brought together Speakers and Heads of Parliament from across Africa to chart ways forward for the post-covid-19 continent.
It is believed that Africa has huge potential to achieve the highest development goals in the world, therefore the continent must do more to get there and that the parliaments, being key arms of government, have a major role to play in galvanizing this push for Africa’s development.
Speaker, Nigerian House of Representatives, convener of the conference said as representatives of the people, parliaments must ensure that government priorities reflect Africans’ most pressing needs and aspirations.
He stated that; “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. 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.”
The Speaker also called for “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.”
Mr Gbajabiamila also said working together in an atmosphere of peace and jointly tackling the ravaging insecurity on the continent, would safeguard the future of the continent.
In a keynote address, the President African Development Bank, Dr Akinwumi Adesina stressed the need for African Countries to build health defence systems that would address future pandemics.
Declaring the conference open, President Muhammadu Buhari, represented by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo. observed that Africa appears to have “Faired better,“ in confronting the COVID-19 pandemic when compared to other parts of the World.
However, he said, it still recorded over 253,000 deaths, some 30million job losses and up to 40 million people being forced into poverty.
President Buhari said Nigeria had 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.
He 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.
The meeting is expected to end with a Press Conference on Tuesday, May 10, 2022