Senate President Seeks More Collaboration With EU To Deepen Democracy In Nigeria

The Senate President, Godswill Obot Akpabio has advocated more collaboration between Nigeria and the European Union to deepen democracy in the west African country.

Akpabio made this call on Tuesday while playing host to a delegation of the EU in Nigeria led by Ambassador Samuela Isopi.

He told his guests: “For the European Union, it will be a great privilege in the 10th Senate to relate closely on almost all matters with your parliament. I want to congratulate you that the EU continue to remain strong, vibrant and stabled despite BREXIT.

“As soon as your parliament is inaugurated in July, the election comes up in June, we will be very glad for you to create an enabling environment for us to have interparliamentary exchange, to learn from one another and also deepen democracy in Nigeria.

“I always like to say that one out of four black persons in the world, one of them must be a Nigerian. So if you deepen democracy in Nigeria and the conditions are favourable here, that means you have assisted the global black race.”

He commended EU for the study it sponsored on “2023 Mapping of European Union companies in Nigeria.”

By that study, Akpabio said, the EU had taken time to know the contributions of the various companies from the European Union to Nigeria, creating over 50,000 jobs.

“I request that you do more to assist us because we have a lot of youthful population and unemployment is one of the major issues in the country that if tackled, could result in reducing insecurity in the nation.

“For us in Nigeria, out of the 27 countries that make up the European Union, about 19 of them are physically present in Nigeria at Ambassadorial level. It shows the strong ties that this country has with the European Union,” Akpabio said.

Akpabio said the Senate is well disposed to the issue of cooperation with the EU on the Electoral Reforms stressing that “the 10th Senate is very committed to ensuring that we tinker with the Electoral Act to bring it in line with today’s reality.”

Also responding to the issue of women participation in politics, the Senate President expressed his concerns about the presence of very few women in parliament.

He said in as much as the men wanted more women in politics, the women needed more sensitisation to realise the need to cast votes for their fellow women as well during election period.

Akpabio explained that “what we have done is to make sure that in all delegations outside Nigeria, we include them because they are very few. We want the world to know that we have women in our parliament. At the same time we want to give them exposure to attract other women to take part in politics.”

According to the Senate President, all the women in the 10th Senate are members of the newly constituted Constitution Review Committee and also nominated as members of the next ECOWAS Parliament just as a way to encourage them.

“You also mentioned the fact that EU is a strong advocate of democracy around the world, not just in West Africa but in many places. At the moment, there are a few countries in West Africa that are under military dictatorship. Freedom of movement, freedom of speech totally curtailed.

“So we will be glad if the European Union can work towards a return to democracy in those countries particularly those our neighbouring countries of Mali, Niger and also Burkina Faso as soon as possible,” Akpabio said.

Earlier, the leader of the delegation, Ambassador Samuela Isopi said democratic government was one of EU key areas of collaboration in Nigeria.

“The European Union has supported Nigerian democracy since the return to civilian rule in 1999 and we have been doing that consistently through technical and financial support to critical stakeholders.

“The EU is Nigeria’s largest trading partner, accounting for more than over one-third of Nigeria’s trade with the rest of the world.

“The EU is also top investor in Nigeria. Recently, we have mapped out the presence of EU private investment in Nigeria and we find out that over 220 companies are present in Nigeria that creates jobs for Nigerians,” she said.

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