President Muhammadu Buhari has called on African Parliaments to come up with strategies that will help in tackling the threat of terrorism and armed banditry among other organised crimes in the continent.
He made the call on Thursday while addressing the 73rd Session of the Executive Committee and the 41st Conference of Speakers of the African Parliamentary Union (APU) in Abuja.
“While I commend the actions of African governments in dealing with these evil groups, it is my strong belief that the APU will develop strategies to assist governments in confronting this menace,” the President said.
He also pledged, “as Chairperson of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), I will be more than willing to fast track your resolutions for deliberation and adoption at the ECOWAS sub-region and the much larger African Union (AU).”
President Buhari noted that since its inception, the APU has continued to champion the objective of bringing African parliaments together to join the challenge of finding solutions to the many problems confronting the continent.
He stressed further that the union has helped to develop parliamentary practice in the continent towards the promotion of democracy, human rights, freedoms and the realisation of the objectives of the African Union to achieve durable peace.
The President, however, decried that terrorism and armed banditry among other crimes have continued to be a security challenge for member states of the AU.
According to him, the proliferation of arms aided by abuse of the ease of movement of persons across freer borders has contributed to acts of terrorism by groups like Al Shaabab, ISIS and Boko Haram.
President Buhari, therefore, hinted at what the Nigerian government has done to reverse the terror trend and halt the advancement of Boko Haram.
“We have in collaboration with our neighbours strengthened our armed forces to effectively confront terror groups and have also initiated programmes to address widespread poverty, which has been identified as a significant factor fueling unrest and boosting terror recruitments,” he revealed.
In spite of this progress, the President said his administration was mindful of the remaining challenge of “armed invaders who ransack villages and small farming communities and commit terrible acts including the cold-blooded murder of women and children.”
“We are also making progress in addressing this challenge,” he told the conference.
President Buhari was delighted that the promotion of girls’ education as a way to address early marriages would be the focus of the APU Committee of women parliamentarians.
He said this was another subject which required close attention and assured the committee of the support and cooperation of the Nigerian government.
“A few months back, four girls from a high school in Anambra State, in South East of Nigeria, won the first prize for innovation at an international competition held in the United States of America.
“The success of these girls, some as young as 14, is a success for Africa as a whole, but more importantly, it is a demonstration of what can happen when the girl child is given the opportunity,” President Buhari said.
He stressed that education should not be seen as not just a government programme but as a human right and a social imperative.
The President believes educating girls increases the probability of having more women innovators, entrepreneurs and Chief Executive Officers.
He then thanked the APU for the decision to hold this year’s conference in Nigeria.
According to him, the decision is a demonstration of the importance of the country in achieving and sustaining the lofty ideals and objectives of the APU.