Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, yesterday reiterated the resolve of the National Assembly to place the welfare, interest and general well-being of Nigerians on the front-burner as a way of cushioning the effects of the present economic recession and hardship.
Saraki disclosed this while presenting his speech/debate at the ongoing 135th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and related matters, in Geneva, Switzerland with the theme: ‘Human Rights Abuses as precursors of Conflict: Parliaments as Early Responders.’
He said the National Assembly would continue to support efforts by the world legislative body to check human rights abuses across the world.
Saraki, according to a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Sanni Onogu, said it was time national governments demonstrated courage in implementing laws against human rights abuses.
“There are available laws addressing most of the human-rights related issues, the major problems are centered around non-implementation, poor oversight and lack of enforcement of these laws,” Saraki said: “We must however demonstrate courage, make sacrifices, be accountable, and stand up for the people we represent. We must speak out loudly when our laws are not obeyed and work in synergy with the other arms of government to ensure that human right violations wherever it occurs is condemned and addressed.
“The National Assembly of Nigeria will continue to be a people-centered institution, where the interest and welfare of every Nigerian is paramount. As duly elected representatives of the Nigerian people, we will continue to work closely with every stakeholder in the arduous task of building a prosperous, secured and egalitarian society, where everyone will have a sense of belonging.
“It is on this note that I wish to encourage this discourse and also throw the weight of the National Assembly of Nigeria behind the efforts of the IPU in ensuring early response on the part of Parliaments in checking human rights abuses in order to avoid needless conflict,” he said.
The Senate President also told the world body that the National Assembly is working to reposition the Nigerian economy to effectively meet the challenges of the 21st century on human development, economic and social rights as well as to reposition the Nigerian economy to effectively meet the challenges of the 21st century.
He said this can by achieved “by creating a business environment that would create more jobs and opportunities for the youth, promote and sustain domestic entrepreneurs and facilitate the economic inclusiveness and participation of all segments of society so that the overall standard of living and socio-economic wellbeing of all Nigerians will be raised.
“Specifically, since the beginning of the year, we are working to fast-track over 40 priority bills recommended by the National Assembly Business Environment Roundtable (NASSBER),” he said.
Saraki said it is crucial for the world parliamentarians to see the issue of human rights as a global problem “because it is only by working together and in synergy that we can truly agree on a resolve.”
He said: “The IPU is right by linking the pervasive lack of respect for human dignity as a source of conflict worldwide. Democracy cannot flourish in the midst of human rights abuses. These are often compounded by poor governance, resulting in injustice, whether real or perceived, national or global.
“For example, a top United Nations Human Rights official recently called the siege and bombardment of eastern Aleppo as ‘crimes of historic proportions’ and accused all parties of violating international humanitarian law in Syria.
“In the case of South Sudan, thousands of civilians have been killed often because of their ethnicity or perceived political alliances; where an estimated two million people have been forced to flee their homes while large parts of key towns and essential civilian structures such as clinics, hospitals, schools have been looted, destroyed and abandoned.
“Conflict in the North-east region of Nigeria as a result of Boko Haram activities, have directly affected over 4.5 million families. More than 1 million people in the North-east region are in danger of extreme malnutrition and have become internally displaced persons (IDPs) in their own country. According to UNICEF, 130 children die everyday as a result of lack of food. The UN estimates that about seven million people need assistance especially food of which over 250,000 are under age five.
“Parliamentarians are the guardians of human rights. We work for the well-being of the people that we represent and should continue to develop legislative frameworks to ensure that our various human right laws are respected, implemented and properly over sighted.
“In Nigeria, our legislative agenda emphasized human right issues relating to peace and security, sexual harassment, workers welfare, violence against women and children, among others.
“To address these catastrophic realities, we have passed the Child Rights Act 2003 and the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act 2015. In March 2016, we allocated N10billion to IDPs in the North-east in recognition of the dire situation. Parliamentarians agreed on a personal-allocation of an individual contribution to alleviate the plight of IDPs.
“We have passed the North-east Commission Act to ensure accountability and efficient structures for managing the nation’s humanitarian situation and providing special care for our IDPs,” he stated.