The President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr Abubakar Saraki, has urged African countries to devise their own model of development if they want to be competitive on the global stage.
He said such a model should see Africans focus on manufacturing goods that could be marketed to their people, stressing that once Africans secured the internal market, they could move to other markets with such goods.
Dr Saraki was delivering a lecture on “The Future of Good Governance in Africa” at a symposium held yesterday to mark 25 years of parliamentary democracy in Ghana.
The symposium was attended by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, present and former Members of Parliament (MPs), security chiefs, members of the Diplomatic Corps, traditional and religious leaders, as well as representatives of civil society organisations.
Dr Saraki said African’s share of the world trade, which stood at only three per cent, could be improved if Africans began to trade more among themselves.
He also noted that the fact that movement among African countries was more difficult than travelling to Europe was a major challenge that needed to be addressed.
He, therefore, called for an improvement in the road and railway systems on the continent.
Dr Saraki urged Ghana and Nigeria to collaborate and map out strategies to grow the economies of member countries in the West African sub-region.
It was about time, he said, for Ghana and Nigeria to use their influence to drive development efforts and get the people out of poverty and restore hope to the teeming jobless youth.
Advocating the formation of a common platform between the Nigerian Senate and Ghana’s Parliament to enhance dialogue on how to drive the development agenda, Dr Saraki emphasised that tight policies should be put in place by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
He said such policies should strengthen trade relations among member countries.
Dr Saraki urged Parliament to carry out its oversight functions in an open and transparent manner.
He said legislators must be courageous and be able to speak against the wrongs of the Executive despite the consequences.
‘We must be courageous. We must be able to speak to power. We have to stand for the rights of our people and defend democracy,” he said.
Prof. Oquaye said Parliament was the only institution that suffered the most in case of military interventions since it was dissolved on all occasions.
He said former Republic Parliaments did not last more than 37 months, and indicated that it was a joy that the current Fourth Republican Parliament had lasted for 25 years.
He lauded the former Speakers of Parliament, leaders and clerks of Parliament for their contribution to the growth of Parliament.
The Majority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, said Ghana had made a lot of strides in parliamentary democracy and the country had become a beacon of hope in Africa.
The Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, affirmed the resolve of the Minority to continue to hold the Executive accountable to the people through its oversight functions.