•I share this concern, find in me an ally, President of IPU, Gabriela Barron
Udora Orizu in Abuja
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, has said the devastating effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on African economies calls for debt cancellation. Gbajabiamila stated this at the weekend in Abuja during a zoom meeting with President of Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), Gabriela Cuevas Barron. The speaker sought the support of the union for the Conference of Speakers and Heads of African Parliaments’ quest for debt cancellation for African countries.
Gbajabiamila, who was at the forefront of the formation of CoSAP, told the IPU president that the conference was formed to enhance parliamentary collaboration for growth advancement, stability, and development of the continent. He lamented that the debt burden would not allow many African countries to thrive in the post-pandemic era.
The speaker stated, “It is inhumane to be forced to pick between servicing foreign debt and saving lives locally. Our main focus in the meantime is calling for debt cancellation. We decided to introduce this group to you so that you would join forces with us for the call for debt cancellation for African countries. We cannot do this alone. We need your voice, we need your experience, we need your advice.”
In her response, Barron assured Gbajabiamila of the union’s support in the drive for debt cancellation for African countries, saying it is a welcome development.
“I love this idea for many reasons,” the IPU president said. “Believe me, I share this concern. Please, count on me, find in me an ally, a friend, and someone who truly understands this important challenge for developing countries,” she added.
Barron promised to get in touch with relevant experts to get their advice on the issue, noting that a similar initiative is being pursued in Latin America. She called for the strengthening of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), saying it would go a long way in creating a conducive environment for African countries.
Barron said the idea of regional workshops on issues like climate change and gender should be given priority.
Speaking further, Gbajabiamila expressed his appreciation to IPU and said the issues of AfCFTA and regional training had been on the front burner in many African countries, including Nigeria, and they would continue to push for both.
The first CoSAP forum will hold in Abuja next year, in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. The conference will bring together all Speakers and Heads of Parliaments in Africa as well as strategic partners, including IPU.