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Parliamentary diplomacy critical to world peace, conflict resolution – Akpabio

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Ignatius Okorocha, Abuja

President of the Senate and chairman, National Assembly of Nigeria, Godswill Akpabio, has made a strong case for increased efforts in parliamentary diplomacy.

Akpabio, who spoke at the 148th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union and Related Meetings, held in Geneva, Switzerland, on Sunday, maintained that parliamentary diplomacy is quite critical to achieving peace in the world and resolving conflicts.

He called for more progress in parliamentary diplomacy, noting that though the Nigerian Parliament has explored the concept and achieved a myriad of successes, more can still be done.

According to him, “the Parliament in Nigeria has played a crucial role in curbing polarisation and ensuring peace through legislation”.

Apart from the legislative function, Akpabio said the Parliament also “employs mediation to address conflicts between non-governmental organisations and the government, as well as disputes involving labour unions.”

Senator Akpabio, who shared the progress and initiatives of the 10th National Assembly under his leadership, said it has become imperative for the world to recognise the power of the collective voice in shaping a better future for all, as it is in a critical juncture in history.

He said: “We stand at a pivotal moment in history, an intersection where the choices we make and the words that we speak, have the potential to positively shape the future of a world in constant crisis.

“Therefore, we lend the voice of our country to the patriotic call for collective action to address the challenges facing our wonderful world.

“Nigeria has stunning kaleidoscopic diversity and a vibrant cultural heritage. The obverse side of this diversity is that Nigeria often faces the tragedy of commons where individuals and groups act in their self-interests, leading to the decline of shared resources.”

He noted that, “the government, with the support of the Parliament, has embarked on efforts to strengthen peace, collaboration, and unity. However, we are aware that the specter of polarization along political, ethnic, gender, religious, or racial lines is a global menace that requires the concerted efforts of all governments and non-governmental organizations to overcome.

“In Nigeria, our Parliament plays a crucial role in curbing polarization and ensuring peace and progress through legislation. One notable legislative milestone in Nigeria was the passage of the “Not Too Young to Run” Bill in 2018, which aimed to widen the horizon for youth and women to actively participate in governance.

“Nigeria has also actively contributed, with the support of Parliament, to international peace and security by deploying troops for peacekeeping missions across Africa and beyond.

“Nigeria’s bicameral parliament plays a significant role in conflict prevention and resolution through regional parliamentary forums, fact-finding missions to conflict areas, and addressing cross-border issues related to refugees, arms smuggling, and war-related criminal activities.”

According to him, “Parliamentary friendship groups strengthen ties between parliaments of different countries and promote gender mainstreaming, democracy, and good governance.

“Preventive diplomacy is a powerful instrument for conflict prevention and peaceful mediation.

“Therefore, we engage in dialogue with foreign states to integrate peace-building into treaties and the constitution. The establishment of the National Center for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons demonstrates Nigeria’s commitment to combating insecurity by curbing the circulation of illicit arms in West Africa.”

The Senate President also highlighted other areas where the “Nigerian Parliament has made and continues to make great achievements, including evaluation of political appointees based on merit and in strict adherence to the constitution rather than bias, based on political party affiliation, gender, religion, race, or ethnicity and holding government agencies accountable through investigative and public hearings, among measures.”

Akpabio stated further that “the achievements of the Nigerian Parliament in upholding international commitments, promoting peace-building, and holding the government accountable, are laudable”.

He, however, called for “more progress in parliamentary diplomacy and increase in peace-building capacity, not only in Nigeria but across all sovereign states, saying: “let us advert our minds to Martin Luther King, Jr’s admonition that all mankind is tied together; all life is interrelated, and we are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of identity. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.

“We must walk together, hand-in-hand even if we do not see eye-to-eye, in our march to reshape our world. We must remember that we are the eyes, the ears, the hands and the minds of our people and we embody their hope for a brighter, more equitable future for this blessed world of ours.

“This, very distinguished ladies and gentlemen, is the legacy we owe the world.”

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