Dogara hails EU commitment to deepen democracy in Nigeria

Posted by Mayowa Okekale, Abuja | 7 February 2017 | 2,186 times

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The European Union has displayed an unwavering commitment to deepen Nigeria's democracy by selecting it to be among seven countries that make up its new commission, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, has said.

Speaking when he received a delegation from the EU Parliament at the National Assembly on Monday, Dogara also noted that this is in addition to many other interventions by the EU which is helping promote democratic culture in Nigeria.

He stated: “I want to also note with pride, that of the agreements that you have with other nations, about seven of them in total as you reeled them out, only two nations are in Africa and Nigeria is one of them. That shows commitment by the EU to enhance the growth of democracy in Nigeria. Obviously, we are the largest democracy in Africa, so that was a wonderful decision and we can only but reciprocate.”

Commending the EU Parliament’s interest in Nigeria’s democracy, the speaker noted that deepening democracy goes beyond the ballot because it is what happens after the ballot that matters, adding, “rule of law, people understanding that they can’t be more than the law are quite important and engagements like this to further on this culture of democracy; of elections, of inclusiveness, addressing gender issues and even budgeting that you raised because we are dealing with high distribution issues like who gets what.”

He added that as part of efforts to deepen the quality of the nation's democracy, Nigeria is already working on the shortfalls observed by the EU in the 2015 elections through bills that are before the National Assembly.

Dogara maintained that, democracy is not just about elections because elections have produced dictators in the past but the people must always work to protect and deepen democracy.

Leader of the EU Parliament delegation, Mr. Santiago Fisaf, while speaking earlier, disclosed that the EU had started a new commission dealing not only with federation election but capacity building, and had chosen Nigeria as one of the seven countries to participate.

He explained: “A special agreement between a few countries to interact with us and to help each other with best practices in different parliaments. There are only seven countries in the world that we have this agreement with: Ukraine, Maldova, Georgia,Tunisia, Yemen, Peru and now, Nigeria.

“That means that Nigeria is the only country in south Sahara and Tunisia, in Africa.

The aim of this Committee is to build special relationships between the parliaments, institutionally and also for exchange Senators, Members of the House of Representatives, staff, young politicians and political parties. And to exchange ideas and problems and see how we can solve them.”

Earlier, Vice President of Inter-Parliamentary Union and facilitator of the meeting, Sen. Kabiru Gaya, informed the speaker that the EU delegation held a thorough interaction with chairmen of some Committees in the House of Representatives.

He said: “Honestly, we have learnt a lot from the discussions we had with them and also benefitted a lot from the EU discussions. Chairmen of the Committees of the House of Representatives include that of National Security and Intelligence, Public Accounts, Intergovernmental Affairs, Human Rights, Inter-Parliamentary Affairs and Human Rights. These are members of the team that had discussions with the EU Parliament on many areas of collaboration and observations made earlier in the 2015 elections.”

Source: News Express

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