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Address by Buhari at the Conference of Speakers of the African Parliamentary Union(Full Text)

ADDRESS BY H.E MUHAMMADU BUHARI, PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, AT THE 73RD SESSION OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE AND 41ST CONFERENCE OF SPEAKERS OF NATIONAL PARLIAMENTS OF THE AFRICAN PARLIAMENTARY UNION

PROTOCOLS:

I am delighted to welcome you all to Nigeria, for the 73rd Session of the Executive Committee and the 41st Conference of Speakers of the African Parliamentary Union, holding in our capital city, Abuja.

2. Your coming to Nigeria coincides with the time when our country has just concluded one more step in the journey towards widening our democratic practices by nominating candidates of various political parties for the general elections of next year.

3. I would like to specially thank the APU for the decision to hold this year’s Conference in Nigeria. It is no doubt, a demonstration of the importance of the country in achieving and sustaining the lofty ideals and objectives of the APU.

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

4. Since its foundation, the African Parliamentary Union has continued to champion the objective of bringing African Parliaments together to join the challenge of finding solutions to the many problems confronting the continent, and at the same time, helping to develop parliamentary practice in the continent towards the promotion of democracy, human rights, freedoms and the realization of the objectives of the African Union to achieve durable peace.

5. I am delighted that the 41st Conference of Speakers, as part of its meeting, will be considering the role of parliaments in the fight against terrorism, armed gangs and organized crimes in Africa.

6. Terrorism, armed banditry and organized crimes have continued to be a security challenge for member states of the African Union; the proliferation of arms aided by abuse of the ease of movement of persons across freer borders, which have been historically in place to encourage African unity, have contributed to acts of terrorism by groups like Al Shaabab, ISIS and Boko Haram.

7. Here in Nigeria, we have done a lot to reverse the terror trend and halt the advancement of Boko Haram. We have in collaboration with our neighbours strengthened our armed forces to effectively confront terror groups and have also initiated programmes to address widespread poverty, which has been identified as a significant factor fueling unrest and boosting terror recruitments.

8. In spite of this progress, we are not unmindful of the remaining challenge of armed invaders who ransack villages and small farming communities and commit terrible acts including the cold-blooded murder of women and children. We are also making progress in addressing this challenge

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

9. While I commend the actions of African governments in dealing with these evil groups, it is my strong belief that the APU will develop strategies to assist governments in confronting this menace and, as Chairperson of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), I will be more than willing to fast track your resolutions for deliberation and adoption at the ECOWAS sub-region and the much larger African Union.

10. At the recently concluded Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) held in China, many trade and cooperation agreements running into hundreds of billions of dollars were signed between China and individual African countries.

11. These agreements will hasten the efficiency of the business and investment climate in Africa. I am pleased that the Conference of Speakers will also consider the promotion of private investment. The dynamics of global trade are changing fast. Foreign Direct Investment is a key index of economic performance.

12. As the global economic superpowers redesign and restructure the global economy, Africa cannot afford to be caught off guard. We have to navigate these uncertain economic times with realistic plans in which the private sector is key.

13. Barriers that restrict ease of doing business and private sector growth must be addressed by legislation and it is hoped that your resolutions will aid the efforts of African governments in developing a more robust private sector to attract necessary investments in our economies.

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

14. I am also delighted that the promotion of girls’ education as a way to address early marriages will be the focus of the APU Committee of women parliamentarians. This is another subject that requires close attention and I assure you of the support and cooperation of the government of Nigeria.

15. A few months back, four girls from a high school in Anambra State, in South East of Nigeria, won the first prize for innovation at an international competition held in the United States of America. The success of these girls, some as young as 14, is a success for Africa as a whole, but more importantly, it is a demonstration of what can happen when the girl child is given the opportunity. Education should not be seen as a government programme only, but as a human right and a social imperative.

16. Educating girls increases the probability of having more women innovators, entrepreneurs and Chief Executive Officers. Once again, I assure the APU of the desire of the government of Nigeria and others to consider your input on this subject with a view to improving the condition of the African girl-child.

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

17. A conscious and affirmative resolve needs to be made by parliaments and governments across Africa to champion the cause of the Continent and its people. I am convinced that you possess the required commitment to achieve this goal.

18. As you settle down to deliberate on these important issues, I believe you will find time to visit and enjoy the sights and sounds of our capital city, Abuja.

I thank you for your time and attention and I wish you successful deliberations.

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