That Gauteng Commonwealth parliamentarians' parley
Abuja: When members of the Africa Region of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) gathered for their 43rd conference in Gauteng, South Africa, penultimate week, bolstering legislative influence in the day-to-day running of governments for good governance in member-countries was uppermost on their minds. The gathering offered yet another opportunity to share experience, learn from each other and find solutions to the myriad of problems and development challenges bedevilling the African continent.
Since the CPA Africa Region came on board in 1980, it has left an imprint on the continent's sphere of governance. This can be seen from past resolutions of the conferences in areas like the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), food security, climatic change, etc, among other important areas.
Since the return of democratic rule in Nigeria in 1999, the country's parliamentarians have played various roles in promoting the ideals of the CPA. However, as with many things Nigerian, the enthusiasm shown by participants to the CPA conferences at the beginning of the millennium has since waned. This can be seen from the attitude of Nigerians who show up at past conferences but depart almost immediately after the opening ceremony. That was the norm, at least until the emergence of Aminu Waziri Tambuwal as the Speaker of the House of Representatives and leader of Nigerian delegation to the CPA.
The sign that it would not be business as usual with Tambuwal at the helm began to emerge during last year's CPA conference in London. However, it was at the Gauteng gathering of the Africa Region of the association that Nigeria not only took its rightful place among sister nations, but left the stage with a more positive impression not seen since 1999. By the end of the conference, and largely due to Tambuwal's insistence, Nigerian delegates appeared at all scheduled activities of the conference.
Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament and Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, praised Tambuwal's efforts which he said had ensured that Nigerian lawmakers participated actively in all the sessions of the week-long conference. He said for the first time in many years, Nigeria made the necessary impact in the continental gathering due to the speaker's influence.
"Our delegates took part in all the sessions and made useful contributions many of which were adopted at various committee levels. This is instructive considering the fact that we were notorious for not showing up at such gatherings or if we do, we pack our belongings and return home early," Ekweremadu noted.
For the President of the Pan African Parliament (PAP), Hon Bethel Amadi, Tambuwal's leadership style not only at the CPA conference but also in the House of Representatives, has injected confidence into the operations of the lawmakers at international fora like the one provided by the Gauteng conference.
No doubt, the Commonwealth Parliamentarians may have spoken the minds of millions of Nigerians who have come to appreciate that a new era indeed has been instituted in the House of Representatives. Since his election to that position in June last year, Tambuwal has justified the confidence of his colleagues. That much was in display when delegates to the CPA conference came together in demonstration of trust and confidence.