From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has stressed the need for governments across Africa to renew its social compact with the citizenry so as to improve governance, development and build institutions that promote inclusive security and prosperity.
Buhari stated this on Thursday at the 5th Conference of the Network of African Parliamentarians for Defence and Security Committees of the House of Representatives.
The Conference is a strategic platform that brings together lawmakers from across Africa, as well as representatives of the African Union (AU), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the European Union (EU) to exchange ideas, share experiences and deliberate on common approaches to addressing threats to the continent’s collective security.
Represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Buhari said his administration is actively pursuing to ensure that no segment of the Nigerian population feels alienated and marginalized.
He said, “We recognize that having large segments of our population feeling alienated and marginalized is a critical vulnerability. The challenge then is for us to develop measures through policy and legislation that create an umbrella of human security over our people and thereby prevent the forces of destabilization from weaponising the frustrations of the marginalized. In doing this, we will also ensure that the human and material resources that we should be deploying for growth and development are not consumed in conflict.”
Buhari while noting that the Conference was timely, also urged African governments to have more strategic collaboration to tackle existential threats across the continent.
He highlighted the efforts by the Nigerian government to address its security challenges, particularly terrorism and insurgency.
The President told the gathering of parliamentarians that they have a crucial role in leading domestic advocacy for vital security partnerships in their respective countries.
According to him, “governments across the continent are dealing with multiple threats ranging from terrorism and piracy to transnational organized crime and insurrectionary challenges to the very legitimacy of our nations. As part of our efforts in responding, we have prioritized our commitment to the constitutional imperative of guaranteeing the security and the welfare of the people. We have embarked upon an ambitious programme of reforming critical law enforcement institutions while sustaining consistently increased investment in our defence and security sectors.
“However, we recognize that the threats we face in this borderless age are often both local and transnational. We recognize that an insurrection or conflict in one country can spread like an infection across borders to destabilize neighbours and create even greater threats that jeopardize regional security and stability. This is why strategic multi-dimensional partnerships are essential to guaranteeing the peace, stability and prosperity of our nations and our continent.
“The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) is the most recent manifestation of our resolve to open our borders, increase intra-African trade and grow the continent’s economy. It has long been established that deepening the trade links between our nations would serve as a propulsive engine for driving Africa’s growth. But these objectives would be undermined by unchecked destabilization and insecurity. In the light of this, it is clear that this Network has a key role to play in securing our collective prosperity.”