The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, has received the support of the President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) on the drive for debt cancellation for African countries as advocated by the new body, the Conference of Speakers and Heads of African Parliaments (CoSAP).
Gbajabiamila, who has been at the forefront of the formation of CoSAP, told the President of IPU, Ms Gabriela Cuevas Barron, during a zoom meeting in Abuja on Friday that the conference was formed to enhance parliamentary collaboration in advancing the growth, stability and development of the continent.
He sought the support of the IPU for CoSAP’s quest for debt cancellation for African countries, saying that the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on African economies, demands debt cancellation. According to him, It is inhumane to be forced to pick between servicing foreign debt and saving lives locally.
He said the debt burden on African countries would not allow most of the affected nations to thrive in the aftermath of the pandemic.
“Our main focus in the meantime is calling for debt cancellation,” Gbajabiamila told the IPU President.
“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, Ms Gabriella congratulated the Speaker for championing the formation of CoSAP, saying it is a welcome development.
“I love this idea for many reasons.
“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 said as the President of IPU, she would get in touch with relevant experts to get their advice on the issue, noting that a similar initiative is being done in Latin America.
She used the opportunity to call for the strengthening of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which she said would go a long way in creating a conducive environment for African countries.
She also said the idea of regional workshops on issues such as climate change and gender should be given priority, to which Gbajabiamila agreed.
While responding, he said he was glad that both CoSAP and IPU were on the same page.
He said the issues of AfCFTA and the regional training have been on the front burner in most African countries, including Nigeria, saying they would continue to push for both. The first CoSAP will take place in Abuja next year, in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, bringing together all Speakers and Heads of Parliaments in Africa as well as strategic partners which include the IPU.
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