Commonwealth Parliamentarians convene in Nigeria to discuss COVID-19 challenges at CPA Africa Regional Conference

From 9 – 13 November 2021, Commonwealth Parliamentarians from across Africa met in Abuja, Nigeria to attend the 51st Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Africa Regional Conference on the theme of ‘African Parliaments and the Challenge of the COVID-19 Pandemic.’ The main programme included workshops examining COVID-19 challenges through a range of thematic lenses, including gender, youth and sustainable development.

Above: His Excellency Prof Yemi Osinbajo, Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, speaks at the opening ceremony

At the official opening ceremony, the Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency Prof Yemi Osinbajo, delivered the keynote address stressing the importance of the institution of Parliament in promoting democracy and fostering economic development. He also called on international leaders to put in place appropriate transitional climate change arrangements for Africa, saying:

‘the international community must meet its pledges to Africa and the developing world in terms of financing and technology, to support mitigation and adaptation to climate change’.

In his welcome address, the Speaker of the House of Representatives of Nigeria and President-designate of the CPA Africa Region, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, appealed for full integration in Africa, taking advantage of the available regional legislative instruments to have a common passport, market and a single customs and monetary union. Hon. Christopher Kalila, MP (Zambia) addressed delegates on behalf of the CPA Africa Region Executive Committee, whilst Hon. Dr Zainab Gimba, MNA (Nigeria), as Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) Africa Regional Chairperson, called for greater focus on gender inclusion and women’s participation in political, social, economic and development processes.

The Acting CPA International Chairperson, Hon. Ian Liddell-Grainger, MP (United Kingdom) attended the Regional Conference in person as part of a CPA Secretariat delegation, alongside the CPA Secretary-General, Stephen Twigg and CPA Deputy Secretary-General, Jarvis Matiya. Speaking at the opening ceremony, the Acting CPA Chairperson reiterated the CPA’s commitment to continue pushing for a change in the legal status of the CPA, whilst the CPA Secretary-General took the opportunity to welcome back several Nigerian sub-national Legislatures that have recently been re-admitted to the CPA’s membership.