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  • Updated: February 21, 2024

Senate President advocates more collaboration with EU to strengthen Nigeria's democracy

Senate President advocates more collaboration with EU to str

Godswill Akpabio, the president of the Senate, has pushed for increased cooperation between Nigeria and the European Union to strengthen democracy in the nation of West Africa.

On Tuesday, while hosting an EU mission in Nigeria under the leadership of Ambassador Samuela Isopi, Akpabio made this call.

The Senate President stated: "For the European Union, it will be a great privilege in the 10th Senate to relate closely on almost all matters with your parliament. I want to congratulate you that the EU continue to remain strong, vibrant and stable despite BREXIT.

"As soon as your parliament is inaugurated in July, the election comes up in June, we will be very glad for you to create an enabling environment for us to have an interparliamentary exchange, to learn from one another and also deepen democracy in Nigeria.

"I always like to say that one out of four black persons in the world, one of them must be a Nigerian. So if you deepen democracy in Nigeria and the conditions are favourable here, that means you have assisted the global black race."

He gave the European Union credit for sponsoring the study titled "2023 Mapping of European Union companies in Nigeria." According to Akpabio, the report showed that the European Union had taken the effort to understand how its diverse industries had helped to create over 50,000 jobs in Nigeria.

"I request that you do more to assist us because we have a lot of youthful population and unemployment is one of the major issues in the country that if tackled, could result in reducing insecurity in the nation.

"For us in Nigeria, out of the 27 countries that make up the European Union, about 19 of them are physically present in Nigeria at the Ambassadorial level. It shows the strong ties that this country has with the European Union," Akpabio said.

The Senate, according to Akpabio, is open to working with the EU on electoral reforms. He emphasised that "the 10th Senate is very committed to ensuring that we tinker with the Electoral Act to bring it in line with today's reality."

In addition, the Senate President voiced his concerns about the low number of women in parliament in response to the topic of women's participation in politics.

He stated that although males advocated for greater representation of women in politics, women also required increased awareness to understand the importance of voting for one another during election seasons.

Akpabio explained that "what we have done is to make sure that in all delegations outside Nigeria, we include them because they are very few. We want the world to know that we have women in our parliament. At the same time, we want to give them exposure to attract other women to take part in politics."

The Senate President claims that to support the women of the 10th Senate, they have all been selected to serve on the upcoming ECOWAS Parliament and are members of the recently established Constitution Review Committee.

"You also mentioned the fact that the EU is a strong advocate of democracy around the world, not just in West Africa but in many places. At the moment, there are a few countries in West Africa that are under military dictatorship. Freedom of movement, freedom of speech totally curtailed.

"So we will be glad if the European Union can work towards a return to democracy in those countries particularly those our neighbouring countries of Mali, Niger and also Burkina Faso as soon as possible," Akpabio stated. 

Earlier, the delegation's head, Ambassador Samuela Isopi, stated that one of the EU's primary areas of cooperation with Nigeria was democratic governance.

She said, "The European Union has supported Nigerian democracy since the return to civilian rule in 1999 and we have been doing that consistently through technical and financial support to critical stakeholders.

"The EU is Nigeria's largest trading partner, accounting for more than over one-third of Nigeria's trade with the rest of the world.

"The EU is also a top investor in Nigeria. Recently,  we have mapped out the presence of EU private investment in Nigeria and we find out that over 220 companies are present in Nigeria that create jobs for Nigerians." 

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