November 11, 2021

Gbajabiamila to CPA: Let’s integrate Africa with one passport, common market, single customs, monetary system

Polls: Arrest, prosecution of electoral offenders will build confidence – Gbajabiamila



…as 51st Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conference opens in Abuja

By Levinus Nwabughiogu-Abuja

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila has advocated full integration in Africa using the legislative instrument to have a common passport, market and a single customs and monetary union.

The speaker made the call at the opening of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Africa Region 51st Conference in Abuja on Thursday declared open by President Muhammadu Buhari who was however represented by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.

He said:  “Let us commit ourselves to use the tools of parliamentary diplomacy and authority to enable the achievement of a common passport, a common market and a single customs and monetary union that will make full African integration possible. Let us agree to use the instruments of trade and common markets to set us irreversibly on the path to a future of honourable peace, abiding prosperity and brotherhood amongst the nations of Africa.”

The Speaker lamented a situation where Africa witnessed a reversal of the democratic gains made over the past two decades in Sudan, Mali, Guinea, Niger and Chad, amongst others.

“It is, therefore, apt that we have chosen to make addressing the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic the theme of our Conference this year. This will allow us to critically examine the present conditions across Africa, consider options for building political and economic resilience using the tools and powers of parliament, and affirm our shared commitment to the goal of a democratic, free and prosperous continent,” he said.

Gbajabiamila said the association had helped build and expand parliamentary expertise and capacity for legislators and legislative staff across the continent both at the national and sub-national levels through annual conferences, seminars, workshops, parliamentary visits and exchanges,

He said the work of the CPA Africa Region was sustained by innovation and the creative use of limited resources, citing the Investment Board as one of such innovations, which allowed it to venture into a commercial activity that saw plans for the construction of a 5-star multipurpose hotel in Dodoma, Tanzania hatched.

Despite that, however, Gbajabiamila said challenges still abound, and that they were working to overcome them.

He added, “For one, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association is a Charity organisation registered under the laws of the United Kingdom. Over the years, we in the Africa region have championed the campaign to change status from a Charity to an International Association. A Bill has been introduced in the Parliament of the United Kingdom to effect this outcome.

“However, the process has been slow. Therefore, there is an obvious and urgent need to rethink our strategy. In this regard, we will be seeking the support of the Heads of Government to intervene at the level of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to enable us to resolve this matter as soon as it is possible.”

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Gbajabiamila said that speakers from the African subregion were working to protect shared interests.

“We believe that increased collaboration between African Speakers is necessary to protect our shared interests in this new paradigm. Our principal objective is to facilitate increased collaboration and cooperation between Speakers, Heads of Parliament and National Assemblies across Africa to advance African development. We are working on expanding the membership and participation of parliaments across the continent”, he said.

He thanked both President Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo for their support in honouring the CPA’s invitation to declare the conference open.

Gbajabiamila also encouraged delegates at the conference to take the opportunity to consider the prospects for collective advancement and shared prosperity that existed in the free movement of people, goods and services across Africa.

In a remark, Rep. Zainab Gimba, who is the chairperson, Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians, Africa Region, said women were constrained from achieving the highest leadership position, noting that issues pertaining to women shall be at the front-burner during sensitization workshops at the conference.

There were goodwill messages from Mr Stephen Twigg, the Secretary-General, CPA; Mr Ian Liddell-Grainger, the acting chairperson of the CPA International Executive Committee, and the Chairperson, CPA Africa Region Executive Committee and Speaker of Kenyan National Assembly, Rt. Hon. Justin B. N. Muturi, represented by Vice Chairperson of the Executive Committee, Dr Christopher Elila.

Vanguard News Nigeria