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Probing the importance of Nigeria’s election into IPU Exco ~ by Edward Usoro

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Is there any benefit from Nigeria’s election into the executive committee of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU)? The question, in the last few days, has become a song on the lips of many. The quest for answer becomes necessary, following the historic election of Senator Godswill Akpabio into the executive committee of the international legislative organ. Akpabio, the leader of the Nigerian delegation to the 147th Assembly summit, is the Senate President!

For about 59 years, we heard nothing about IPU. If Nigeria was participating in its activities, few knew. But few weeks back, Akpabio and the 10th National Assembly emboldened and emblazoned our country’s name on the global history book. Suddenly, Nigeria is conspicuous on the world’s radar, after Akpabio got elected into the Exco committee of IPU.

Some, who heard the news dismissed it as another fruitless venture. A few expressed confidence that it holds enormous possibilities for the nation. Yet, the curiosity lingers. Even Akpabio’s explanation on return from Angola, where the celebrated election took place, has not satisfied some.

The Senate President had told newsmen on arrival from the summit, that his election into IPU Exco would impact positively on the country, through the creation of employment and developmental opportunities for young Nigerians, who are seeking to become diplomats.

His words: “A lot of employment opportunities would be created, a lot of offices would be opened; sub-national offices would be opened and a lot of young Nigerians who wish to be diplomats will have the opportunity of working there.

Additionally, he said: “This will also attract foreign direct investments in the area of training and retraining and capacity building, not just for the legislature but for people who are in different fields. The benefits are enormous, so we thank God for it.”

For easier understanding, IPU plays a major role in promoting job creation and foreign direct investments by facilitating dialogue and cooperation between parliaments and governments. It supports the development of policies and legislations that promote economic growth, entrepreneurship, and investment.

Through its programs and initiatives, the IPU provides opportunities for parliamentarians to exchange knowledge and experiences on best practices for attracting foreign direct investments (FDIs) and creating an enabling environment for job creation.

Additionally, the IPU works to ensure that sustainable development goals are integrated into national legislation and policies, which can contribute to creating a conducive environment for job creation and attracting FDIs.

For years, Nigeria was missing at the decision-making table of that Union. But with Akpabio’s election into the IPU Exco, our nation is sure to benefit in specific areas of economic growth, sustainable democracy, entrepreneurship, and investment.

According to experts, with the active involvement at the Exco level, Nigeria stands to reap huge, including from the following:

* Investment promotion: The IPU could worked with Nigeria to develop investment promotion policies and strategies. These may include offering tax incentives, creating special economic zones, and streamlining regulations to attract foreign direct investment.

* Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) support: The body is know to have supported legislations that simplify business registration processes, provide access to finance and credit, and promote entrepreneurship education and training. Nigeria is bound to benefit from such gestures, too.

* Innovative financing mechanisms: IPU is likely to encourage Nigeria to explore innovative financing mechanisms to support economic growth. This could include levers like the establishment of venture capital funds, public-private partnerships, and crowdfunding platforms, etc, to support startups and innovation.

* Labour market reforms: The IPU advocates for labour market reforms that promote flexibility, social protection, and fair working conditions. Thus, the union is in a position to support legislations that enhance worker rights, improve access to training and skills development, as well as promote gender equity, especially in the workforce.

* Sustainable development integration: Records show that IPU has supported the integration of sustainable development goals into some national legislations and policies. With Nigeria’s election into its Exco, we are likely to witness increased promotion of environmentally-friendly business practices, renewable energy adoption, and responsible investment practices.

Just like Akpabio explained, IPU plays a major role is growing democracies in most member nations. The extent and speed of such growth may be interrogated. But such speed may also depend on how serious those beneficiary nations are. In Nigeria’s case, with the avowed commitment of the current administration, we are likely to witness the actualisation of “renewed hope” in areas like democracy, peace, cooperation, etc.

Interestingly, IPU, through “Networking and Diplomacy,”allows parliamentarians to connect and engage with their counterparts from other countries, fostering relationships and enabling international cooperation. It also provides a platform for sharing information, experiences, and best practices among its members. This can help the lawmakers learn from one another and enhance their legislative and governance skills.

Another benefit of being at the apex of the IPU is in advocacy. Here, Nigeria can join in advocating for key issues and contribute to global decision-making processes. She can also influence international policies and promote human rights, democracy, and sustainable development.

Aside from serving as a forum where parliamentarians engage in meaningful dialogue and shared concerns on various global challenges, thus seeking common solutions, IPU membership offers support for democratic institutions. Being in the Exco of the organ places Nigeria at a vantage, when any such issue comes up.

Specifically, through its activities, the IPU helps strengthen parliaments, promote transparency, and ensure accountability in governance. By belonging to the highest decision making body, Nigeria is certainly aiming for the top in democracy, peace and sustainable development, among others.

Usoro, a public affairs analyst, writes from Lagos.

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