President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has called on the international community to organize a global conference aimed at galvanizing international resources to mitigate the devastation and the humanitarian situation in the North East of the Country as well as the continuous threat posed by the Boko Haram terrorists.
It could be recalled that Saraki on Thursday led a National Assembly delegation to partake in the 137th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly taking place in St. Petersburg, Russia, with the theme: “Promoting Cultural Pluralism and Peace through Inter-faith and Inter-ethnic Dialogue.”
Saraki who gave the call in his speech at the ongoing IPU meeting, said the need for international effort in mitigating the sufferings of victims and rebuilding affected cities and communities in the region remains as the Federal Government alone cannot bear the burden of the massive resources required to resettle the people at this time.
He stated that extremism and group radicalization can only be curbed when societies are made prosperous.
He noted that the 8th National Assembly is presently at the forefront of improved coordination efforts to overcome institutional and logistical impediments in the way of getting aid to those in need in the North East.
“We have reached an advanced stage in plans for a development commission to tackle the crisis in the North East, incidentally the region with the highest poverty rate in the country,” Saraki said. “We have also made economic growth and greater investment the core of our legislative agenda.”
According to the President of the Senate, “The sooner we deliver economic reforms and greater prosperity to all Nigerians, the sooner we can achieve a more inclusive society, and minimise societal divisions and grievances.
“Poverty, hunger and marginalisation can provide a breeding ground for extremism; when we ensure a safe and prosperous society, we prevent the radicalisation of vulnerable groups.
“While we recognize that there is a lot more we can do, it is pertinent to note that we cannot do it alone. We are therefore calling for an international conference on North-East Nigeria and the Boko Haram threat, similar to those convened in London on Somalia and Syria,” he stated.
He further stated that the National Assembly believes that inter-faith dialogue especially those driven by women and the media can support the role of passing the message of religious tolerance amongst the younger generation because of their influential roles in the social cultural fabric of global citizens.
“We cannot overemphasize the special role education has to play in overcoming prejudices and uprooting stereotypes, promoting inter-denominational services, cultivating and promoting shared values,” he said.
He insisted that Parliamentarians can champion IPU’s core values of Equality, Inclusiveness, Respect, Integrity and Solidarity as necessary tools for bringing about peace through cultural pluralism.
“I urge us to adopt the Tirana Summit Declaration of 2004, for a world in which religious leaders and communities create spaces where diverse religious faiths cannot only coexist peacefully, but also work actively together to promote a sense of social cohesion and collective purpose.
“While national circumstances may differ, these ideals are still universally accepted as parts of the panacea for world peace,” he said.