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Friday, April 19, 2024

Akpabio Raises Nigeria’s Voice at IPU

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The President of the Senate, Godswill Obot Akpabio, attended the 147th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) for the first time in October last year as head of Nigeria’s delegation.

The session was held in Luanda, the capital city of Angola. At the event, Akpabio was elected member of the Executive Committee of the influential global organization.

His election was a triumph in international diplomacy for Nigeria. The last time that Africa’s largest democracy enjoyed such privilege was 60 years ago, in1964 when Nwafor Orizu was Nigeria’s Senate President.

Since he became a member of the IPU Executive Committee, Akpabio has played his part with distinction. He has become a marketer extraordinaire for his country, enthusiastically and deftly flying the flag of Nigeria in the global arena.

Akpabio has used his position to project Nigeria’s voice and image at every opportunity. One of such opportunities is the ongoing Assembly of IPU.

On Friday 22nd March, 2024, Akpabio boarded a commercial flight out of Abuja, as the head of the Nigerian delegation again, to the 148th Assembly of IPU in Geneva, Switzerland. In the delegation are the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Benjamin Kalu, Senator Asuquo Ekpenyong, Senator Natasha Akpoti Uduaghan and Senator Jimoh Ibrahim among others.

During one of the sessions, Akpabio spoke passionately on the tragic war in Gaza. Through his thought-provoking intervention that day, Nigeria strongly registered her presence at the summit and demonstrated compassion for humanity.

Akpabio stressed before the august gathering that the most urgent issue in Gaza is that innocent lives are needlessly being wasted daily. That defenceless children and women are caught in the cross-fire of belligerency.

“Madam President, this is a lone voice from Nigeria,” Akpabio began his intervention in one of the sessions. He spoke with candour and passion. He started by reminding the IPU President of an earlier failed attempt at the Luanda summit, in Angola, to make the Assembly lend a collective voice against the ongoing tragedy in Gaza.

“Today, the world is very expectant. We must drop ego. It has nothing to do with which country brings a proposal. The basic tenets of humanity demands that we leave here with resolutions for the rest of the world to show that we have humane feelings in us,” Akpabio said.

For emphasis, Akpabio drew the attention of his fellow participants to the collateral damages being recorded in Gaza: “We have children who are dying even as we are talking now. We have people who cannot find water to drink even as we are talking now. We have those who are going to suffer from infections due to gunshots. We have to show the world that we are human beings.”

From this preamble, Akpabio laid the basis for Nigeria’s expectations from the Geneva summit. Without mincing words, Akpabio said: “Cessation of hostilities must be part of our resolutions. Access to humanitarian aids must be part of our resolutions. At the same time, release of hostages. We can no longer allow a child to die tonight without lending a voice…We must discuss the Gaza issue in this 148th IPU Assembly. That is my position.”

Earlier in a comprehensive address, Akpabio spoke on “Parliamentary Diplomacy: Building Bridges for Peace and Understanding.” He touched on what Parliamentary Diplomacy could achieve in conflict resolution and in the quest for world peace and stability. In particular, he spoke of the importance of a collective voice: “Let us, as we gather at this critical juncture in history, recognize the power of our collective voice in shaping a better future for all.

 

“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.

“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.’ This is why we are here.

“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.”

Akpabio also seized the rare occasion to engage in aggressive marketing of his country Nigeria, by sharing with them the progress and initiatives of the Nigerian Parliament.

“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.

“The achievements of the Nigerian Parliament in upholding international commitments, promoting peace-building, and holding the government accountable deserve commendation. We call for more progress in parliamentary diplomacy and increase in our peace-building capacity, not only in Nigeria but across all sovereign states,” Akpabio told his audience.

IPU, the global organization of national parliaments, was formed in1889 and has become a veritable platform for projecting one’s country because of what the body stands for: promoting peace through parliamentary democracy and dialogue. Its membership spread of about 180 countries and still counting, out of the 193 countries in the world makes it a big platform for a country to showcase herself.

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