Members of the Security related committees of Ghana’s Parliament and their Nigerian counterparts (Nigerian National Assembly) have met to kick-start a session to dialogue on peace and security in the sub-region
The dialogue organised by the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of the Armed Forces (DCAF), the Policy and legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), and hosted by the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC), was dubbed “exchange of good practices on legislative Oversight”.
Mr Brian Acheampong, Minister of State, Office of the President, said unlike in the past when authoritarian and military rule stifled and disrupted the growth of Parliament in Africa, there was a cheer element that today’s Parliament had enjoyed some stability as we seek to grow our collective democracy in Africa.
“As opposed to the regime, security which was the rule in the past, the notion of human security is now the fulcrum around which most security policies and programmes are formulated and implemented,” he said.
He said while ensuring that we have stable and vibrant democracies, the concern of most governments in Africa in this present era was how to keep vulnerable populations safe from the risk of environmental degradation, hunger, poverty, disease, illiteracy and inequality, as well as keeping citizens free from the dangers of crime, violence and extremism.
Mr Acheampong said the security environment in Africa was changing rapidly and policy makers and legislatures need to develop the right skills and competencies to be able to formulate the right policies to support the security agencies to overcome the challenges.
“This Parliamentary exchange programme will further strengthen our resolve to consolidate democracy and rule of law and inspire us in the 2001 ECOWAS parliamentary protocol on democracy and the African union charter on democracy, elections and governance for 2007,” he said.
The Nigerian High Commissioner to Ghana, Mr Olufemi Abikoye, said the exchange visit was timely and important for the advancement of the security sector; and that it was instructive and encouraging that both parliaments were motivated to want to improve the manner in which their committees conduct oversight.
He said the legislature is a key arm of government and being able to learn from other legislators in similar climes and exchange experiences is important in improving capacity and advancing existing legislative efforts.
“This visit is also key for building integral and strategic relationships between Ghana and Nigeria for the increased effectiveness of their respective security sectors,” he added.
The Commandant of the KAIPTC, Air Vice Marshal Griffiths S. Evans said the KAIPTC, over the last 15 years, had trained over 17,000 military, police and civilian personnel from over 90 countries and organizations across the world.
“Our flagship programmes in security sector reform/governance, and managing defence in the wider security environment are, but a few of the causes that have directly contributed to the security sector reform processes in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mali and more recently the ongoing Security Sector Reform (SSR) process in the Gambia,” he said.
“Our quest to build safer and more resilient societies in the continent will come to nothing if we fail to share experiences and harness our collective efforts at overcoming our regional security threats, which are in turn changing rapidly,” he said.
The Executive Director, Policy and legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), Mr Clement Nwankwo, expressed appreciation to the Ghanaian Parliamentarians for their willingness to participate in this event and share their insights with their Nigerian counterparts.
“PLAC is pleased to be a part of this event and has been at the forefront of providing technical support to the national assembly for a number of years,” he said.
“PLAC realizes that security is one of the components of the social contract between a state and its citizens and feeds into areas such as the economy, investments and social unity,” he added.
“Looking at the security challenges being encountered at the global, regional and national levels, the enhancement of oversight functions of the legislature has never been more necessary in helping improve security delivery to citizens and promoting accountability by agencies that have been given this duty.”
Mr Nwankwo said the role of the legislature could not be over emphasised in responding to the implementation of laws and executive policies as well as ensuring that the security agencies were functioning optimally.