Greetings from the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
It is a great honour to address you this morning. Let me join my other colleagues in congratulating the IPU on this historic conference of speakers. The timing could not have been more significant.
Today, we live in a world that is embattled with challenges with no easy answers from climate change, to regional conflicts and terrorism. These conflicts have brought in their wake the problem of internal destitution, displacement and dislocation. Democracy and development cannot take place in this type of atmosphere. The challenge the global community now faces is how to quickly turn this tide around to achieve sustainable development.
My fellow colleagues, this is the biggest question which development faces across the world. For us in Nigeria, the challenge is the same. Thankfully, election violence is no longer part of our cocktail of conflicts. Nigeria just came out of a general election a few months ago.
The process, the outcome and the aftermath of that election are quite significant in many respects, not only to Nigeria but also to the entire African continent, as it has set a standard for the rest of Africa to follow. Hopefully, the days where elections lead to instability and conflict in Africa will become a thing of the past.
In the days leading to the election, many analysts outside Nigeria believed the elections would end in serious crisis and even predicted that Nigeria may not survive as a united country. Well, events turned out differently. Nigeria went ahead to conduct a most peaceful and most transparent election in her history.
For the first time ever, the ruling party was defeated in a free and fair election. More importantly, we witnessed a peaceful transfer of power to the opposition after the then incumbent had graciously conceded defeat. President Muhammadu Buhari has since assumed office and the people of Nigeria look ahead with great hopes and renewed optimism.
With the historic success of that election, Nigerians demonstrated an abiding commitment to democracy. In a country with a rather long history of military rule, and on a continent still dotted by sit-tight presidents, this is very encouraging indeed.
However, while the rest of the world has acknowledged this Nigerian achievement and have rejoiced with us accordingly, those of us in leadership position understand that an election by itself does not make democracy.
Our democracy will only be strengthened if it is able to guarantee also, better life and security for our people. This is where the challenge then lies. How then do we guarantee better life for our people in the mist of terrorism, insecurity and corruption?
Like most other countries, terrorism has become a clog on our wheel to sustainable development. Since 2009, we have seen many of our innocent citizens have been brutally and senselessly murdered and others rendered internally displaced.
The idea of a 15-year-old girl suicide bomber, wherever it may be in the world, be it in the Middle East, Africa, South America, Asia is not the world of our dream. It is not a reflective of a world where sustainable development is the agenda.
Surely, these cannot be treated as a local problem. The brutality, purposelessness and borderlessness of these challenges make it imperative that we adopt a global approach to solving the issue of terrorism. Terrorism on one part of the world is no more important than that in another part.
The Nigerian parliament is committed to this and is ready to play its part to deliver successful results. Terrorism threatens our democracy, our unity and our effort towards sustainable development. Boko Haram represents the greatest terrorist threat we face. The insurgency’s senseless terror has brought untold destruction and hardship on our people in the North East of the country.
The time is now. We have the will and the right leadership in the person of President Buhari, who by his body language and antecedents will lead the country’s effort to fight this war. In our President and the current 8th Senate, as well as the House of Representatives you have a reliable partner.
I therefore call on the international community to partner with Nigeria to defeat Boko Haram and other threats to our collective security including human trafficking, kidnapping and proliferation of illegal arms in our region as well as mobilizing resources for rebuilding that part of my country.
Thankfully, our military has in recent times, significantly degraded the morale and capacity of the insurgents to launch attacks in the area, a feat that has since seen many settlements liberated, roads reopened and hope restored. I call on the global community to join hands with Nigeria to rebuild the overwhelming destruction of the Northeast.
The plight of people fleeing conflict zones in search of peace and better life must task our abilities on how we can build inclusive sustainable development, one that sees them as having a share in this new world order. Today, more and more people have become displaced by conflict than ever since World War 11. This displacement is creating a new kind of conflict arising from desperate poverty, and identity and resource crises in an unwelcoming world.
Fellow colleagues, Nowhere are these challenges more keenly felt, than in the plight of displaced persons, migrants and refugees, where due to conflict and natural disasters, citizens are bereft of human rights, even certifiable citizenship identities, such as the ongoing situations in North-East Nigeria, with the attendant shock waves being felt in other parts of the world through the rising tides of unsafe and unregulated, emergency migration, to Europe and other regions.
In my country alone, we have seen the displacement of over 2 million persons and about 10,000 children orphaned by the Boko Haram conflict. The human misery has been unspeakable. I had the opportunity of an entire day visiting from camp to camp some of the IDP, to see first hand the real suffering that thousand of mostly women and children are going through. It’s horrendous.
Therefore, for the SDG to succeed, we must enact enabling laws that will ensure the smooth implementation of embedded policies and programmes for the benefit of the global state. We also have to ensure adequate inter-parliamentary cohesion.
This will enable us to harness ideas and strategies that are mutually beneficial in achieving our goals. Also, a periodic monitoring platform is necessary to constantly check the progress of the programme.
The international legislature must help to define and prioritize the new SDGs. Only a veritable and deep-seated commitment to upholding democratic principles, promoting peace and sustainable development can lead to the actualization of a better world. We must commit to building a world centered on improving the well-being of humanity, and look to the future with unyielding determination.
The legislature surely has a critical role to play in providing the underpinnings that would help create a new global regime that is able to deal with these challenges in terms of laws and oversight. Thankfully, the United Nations has taken the right steps in involving the legislature early in the process of the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals.
We must now speak and act in unison. No excuses. We must play our role to see it to the next level. The IPU has a duty of galvanizing member state support and action in these regards. Most of all whatever we do we must keep in mind that without peace it is impossible to achieve sustainable development.
I thank you for your kind attention and wish us all fruitful deliberations.
Senator (Dr.) Abubakar Bukola Saraki, CON
President of the Senate
Federal Republic of Nigeria