CoSAP ‘ll Continue to Deepen Democracy in Africa- Reps Speaker, Abbas
Why CoSAP must continue, be strengthened – Speaker Abbas
The Speaker of the House of Representatives Hon. Abbas Tajudeen, has said that the Conference of Speakers and Heads of African Parliaments (CoSAP) must continue and be strengthened for parliaments around the continent to find legislative solutions to the challenges facing their respective countries.
CoSAP is an initiative of some speakers and heads of African parliaments, established between 2020 and 2021. It was spearheaded by the Speaker of the 9th House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, who is now the Chief of Staff to the President of Nigeria.
Speaking during a meeting on the sidelines of the ongoing 66th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference (CPC) taking place in Accra, Ghana, Speaker Abbas said there is no better time for African parliaments to come together than now, given the myriad of challenges facing countries on the continent.
Describing the initiative as noble, Speaker Abbas said CoSAP would be of inestimable value to the continent in the future.
He said there was the need for parliaments in Africa to come together to support the African Union (AU), which is an umbrella body of the countries on the continent.
He said: “We never had a forum to share ideas and synergise together. That’s why we remain porous and divided in Africa. I think there’s no better time than now, for the conference of speakers to take a decisive decision, to agree to this initiative. It is very noble; it is very cogent. The reward will be inestimable in the future.
“Take the example of the African Union. It is already a conglomeration of all leaderships in Africa, irrespective of whether you’re Anglophone or Francophone or whatever. They come together under one umbrella and take decisions. But at the level of Legislatures, we don’t have that.
“I believe even for the support of our African Union presidents and leaders, there is the need for us to also have similar structure so that we can come together. Sometimes, we can even look at what they’re doing so that we can take a position on those matters, either to support them or advise them to amend.
“It is important for us to agree on this body because it is going to be very mutually beneficial to all of us,” Speaker Abbas said.
He commended the chairman of CoSAP, who is the Speaker of the Ghanaian Parliament, Hon. Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, who convened the meeting.
He said the inclusion of former speakers of African parliaments into the body would help for institutional memory as well as give the current speakers the room to learn and gain from their experiences.
“This is for institutional memory. This is part of the problem with the CPA. We cannot afford to move forward without the support and experience of people like you.”
At the meeting, convened to discuss the draft constitution of CoSAP, the chairman of the body, Speaker Bagbin, said the initiative came through Gbajabiamila after the outbreak of Covid-19 and that they held their first meeting in Abuja in May, 2022.
He said there seemed to be a vacuum in parliamentary diplomacy, noting that the formation of CoSAP was to fill the vacuum by creating the first indigenous African body to mobilise collective action in advancing African development.
“It is one of the platforms for heads of Parliaments on the African continent to put heads together and work for common challenges. It’s for the leadership to confront common challenges,” he said.
He noted that some of the resolutions reached at the Abuja meeting were that African parliaments must take decisive action to end unconstitutional overthrow of governments in Africa; Africa’s rising debts must be tamed through effective parliamentary oversight, and that the roles and powers of legislative arm must be guarded and strengthened.
Others were to create an enabling legislative environment for public private partnership; Africa must build capacity for food insecurity, and that capacity and effectiveness of African inter-parliamentary institutions must be boosted.
There were remarks by the Speakers of Tanzanian Parliament, Rwandan Parliament, South African Parliament, Gambian Parliament, Zambian Parliament Sierra Leone ex-Speaker, among others.
They all commended the founding fathers of CoSAP, especially Gbajabiamila, for their foresight.
The meeting agreed that the draft CoSAP constitution would be studied carefully by the speakers before they would converge for another meeting next year at a location yet to be decided.