Parliament indispensable to ensuring peace, stability in West Africa – Reps speaker

Posted by Timige, On 8 Dec, 2023 | Updated On 8 Dec, 2023 No Comments »



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The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Abbas Tajudeen, has said that parliament is indispensable to ensuring peace, stability and security in the West African sub-region.

Mr Tajudeen spoke on Thursday in Abuja at an international roundtable conference on ‘The Role of Parliaments in Security Sector Reform and Governance in West Africa’ organised by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung(KAS) foundation in conjunction with the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS).

The speaker, who was represented at the occasion by his deputy, Benjamin Kalu, said the security sector plays a pivotal role in ensuring peace, stability, and development within any nation

He also said the security sector encompasses various institutions such as the military, police, intelligence agencies, and other law enforcement bodies, noting that the effective governance and reform of the security sector are essential for upholding the rule of law, protecting human rights, and safeguarding democratic principles.

While noting that the significance of the roundtable cannot be overstated, the speaker nevertheless noted that “it is imperative that we move beyond dialogue and embark on tangible initiatives that will enhance the effectiveness of our parliamentary roles in addressing security sector governance challenges, saying the forum offers “us the chance to critically evaluate our strategies, identify areas of success, and acknowledge the areas where improvements are necessary.”

Nigeria and many other countries across West Africa, Mr Tajudeen noted, have witnessed significant challenges in our security landscape, listing the challenges as ranging from terrorism and insurgency to transnational organised crime, border security issues, and internal conflicts.

Addressing these complex security threats requires a comprehensive approach that involves not only the executive branch but also an active arm of participation and oversight by the legislative government, he noted.

The speaker listed the roles of the parliament in helping to fight insecurity in the subregion including enacting laws that define the mandate and operations of security agencies, as well as laws that protect human rights and ensure accountability within the security sector.

Additionally, he said parliamentary committees dedicated to defence and security issues provide a platform for in-depth scrutiny of security policies and practices.

Aside from the above, Mr Tajudeen said oversight is another fundamental aspect of parliamentary involvement in security sector governance. Through oversight mechanisms such as hearings, inquiries, and reports, parliamentarians can hold security agencies accountable for their actions, performance, and adherence to legal frameworks. This oversight function serves as a check on potential abuses of power and ensures that security institutions operate within the boundaries of democratic governance.

Furthermore, he noted that the parliament wields significant influence through its control over budgetary allocations. By scrutinising and approving defence and security budgets, parliamentarians can shape resource allocation towards priority areas such as capacity building, modernisation efforts, and enhancing civilian oversight mechanisms within the security sector.

In light of the enormous responsibilities the parliament wields in providing peace and stability, Mr Tajudeen charged the parliaments across the West African sub-region to strengthen their capacity in engaging with security sector governance and reforms which entails enhancing parliamentary expertise on security matters, fostering collaboration with civil society organisations and international partners, and promoting transparency and accountability within the security sector.

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“For us in the 10th House of Representatives, The People’s House, our Legislative Agenda seeks to improve accountability in the security sector, such that money budgeted for our security agencies are judiciously used for the purpose it is approved; enhance and improve counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency; encourage inter-agency collaboration and improved intelligence sharing; innovative police and other paramilitary reforms; and strengthen our own internal security arrangement in the National Assembly. If we are able to achieve these, we would have contributed in no small measure to curbing insecurity,” the speaker said.

The speaker charged all the stakeholders present to consider practical strategies for enhancing parliamentary engagement in security sector governance, noting that this may involve developing specialised training programmes for parliamentarians on security-related matters, establishing robust mechanisms for information sharing between security agencies and parliamentary committees, and fostering a culture of dialogue and cooperation between the executive and legislative branches on security policy formulation.

Mr Tajudeen commended Konrad Adenauer Stiftung ( KAS ) for providing the platform to engage in meaningful discussions on critical issues that affect not only Nigeria but also the entire West African sub-region.

Apart from parliamentarians from Sierra Leone, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso and Ghana, including the Speaker of the Liberian House of Representatives, Bofal Chambers, other dignitaries who attended the event were the Nigerian Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, represented by Gbenga Daniel, senator representing Ogun East and Senate chairperson on Navy; Marija Peran, country representative of KAS; NILDS, Abubakar Sulaiman, and a host of others.

Source: State Cross River - Premium Time

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