By Henry Umoru
ABUJA—SENATE President, Bukola Saraki, said yesterday that senators and members of the House of Representatives must be courageous and bold to speak up whenever the laws of the land were not obeyed by any arm or agency of government.
He also said it was high time the government showed enough courage to implement laws against human rights abuses.
According to Saraki, the National Assembly will work in synergy with other arms of government to ensure that human rights violations, wherever they occurred, must be condemned in all ramifications and addressed.
He also reiterated the resolve of the National Assembly to place the welfare, interest and general well-being of Nigerians on the front-burner as a way of cushioning the effects of the present economic recession and hardship.
Saraki spoke, yesterday, while presenting his speech/debate at the ongoing 135th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, IPU, and related matters in Geneva, Switzerland, with the theme, Human Rights Abuses as precursors of Conflict: Parliaments as Early Responders.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Sanni Onogu, the Senate President said the National Assembly would continue to support efforts by the world legislative body to check human rights abuses across the world.
He said: “There are available laws addressing most of the human-rights related issues, the major problems are centered around non-implementation, poor oversight and lack of enforcement of these laws.
“We must, however, demonstrate courage, make sacrifices, be accountable, and stand up for the people we represent.”
‘’We must speak out loudly when our laws are not obeyed and work in synergy with the other arms of government to ensure that human right violations wherever it occurs is condemned and addressed.
“The National Assembly of Nigeria will continue to be a people-centered institution, where the interest and welfare of every Nigerian is paramount.
‘’As duly elected representatives of the Nigerian people, we will continue to work closely with every stakeholder in the arduous task of building a prosperous, secured and egalitarian society, where everyone will have a sense of belonging.
“It is on this note that I wish to encourage this discourse and also throw the weight of the National Assembly of Nigeria behind the efforts of the IPU in ensuring early response on the part of Parliaments in checking human rights abuses in order to avoid needless conflict.’’
Saraki also told the world body that the National Assembly was working to reposition the Nigerian economy to effectively meet the challenges of the 21st Century on human development, economic and social rights as well as reposition the economy to effectively meet the challenges of the 21st Century.
According to him, this can by achieved by creating a business environment that would create more jobs and opportunities for the youth, promote and sustain domestic entrepreneurs and facilitate the economic inclusiveness and participation of all segments of society so that the overall standard of living and socio-economic well being of all Nigerians will be raised.
“Specifically, since the beginning of the year, we are working to fast-track over 40 priority bills recommended by the National Assembly Business Environment Roundtable (NASSBER).”
Saraki said it was crucial for the world parliamentarians to see the issue of human rights as a global problem.
He said: “The IPU is right by linking the pervasive lack of respect for human dignity as a source of conflict worldwide. Democracy cannot flourish in the midst of human rights abuses. These are often compounded by poor governance, resulting in injustice, whether real or perceived, national or global.
“For example, a top United Nations Human Rights official recently called the siege and bombardment of eastern Aleppo as ‘crimes of historic proportions’ and accused all parties of violating international humanitarian law in Syria.
“In the case of South Sudan, thousands of civilians have been killed often because of their ethnicity or perceived political alliances; where an estimated two (2) million people have been forced to flee their homes while large parts of key towns and essential civilian structures such as clinics, hospitals, schools have been looted, destroyed and abandoned.
“Conflict in the North-East of Nigeria, as a result of Boko Haram activities, has directly affected over 4.5 million families.
‘’More than one million people in the North East are in danger of extreme malnutrition and have become internally displaced persons, IDPs, in their own country.
‘’According to UNICEF, 130 children die everyday as a result of lack of food. The UN estimates that about seven million people need assistance, especially food, of which over 250,000 are under age 5.
“Parliamentarians are the guardians of human rights. We work for the well-being of the people that we represent and should continue to develop legislative frameworks to ensure that our various human right laws are respected, implemented and properly over sighted.’’