The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, has called for stronger diplomatic relationships between Nigeria and Canada.
Gbajabiamila, who expressed appreciation for the existing relationships between the two countries which led to a significant rise in trade, education and technology over the years, however, emphasized the need for Canada to explore areas of security, cybersecurity, biosafety, energy as well as parliamentary diplomacy to the benefit of both countries.
Speaking while hosting the Canadian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Nicolas Simard, in his office on Friday, Gbajabiamila said, “This is important because Nigeria and Canada go back a long way in terms of symbiotic and beneficial relationships.
“It is important that we sustain and continue these engagements to the benefit of our countries. As we know, the world is a global village now, and everybody feeds off everybody and we are all interdependent one way or the other,” he said.
According to the Speaker, the National Assembly prioritizes certain issues, not only for the development of the country but also in conformity with global demands.
He said the issue of security, gender parity, violence against persons, rape, in addition to the economy are well articulated in the 9th House Legislative Agenda to help drive the attainment of the set goals of the Green Chamber.
Noting that the House has taken bold steps to address the gender issue through legislative means, including the ongoing constitutional review exercise, the Speaker said: “Gender parity is an area that this 9th National Assembly, I think more than any past Assembly, focuses seriously on. We are not just talking, we are walking the talk”.
The Speaker, who noted that Nigeria is facing serious security challenges like other countries, said the assistance of Canada towards addressing it would be of benefit to both countries.
Earlier, the Canadian High Commissioner, Simard, informed the Speaker that the strong bilateral relationship between the two countries had resulted in more than $1 billion trade exchange between the two nations last year, while about $150 million per year in form of assistance from Canada to Nigeria to several sectors has been given.
To underscore the importance of the relationships between the two countries, the Canadian Prime Minister and Governor-General visited Nigeria in 2018, while a diplomatic delegation is expected in Nigeria very soon, he added.
Simard also revealed that Canada is in the process of expanding its diplomatic presence in Nigeria for more robust engagement, while he inquired about how Nigeria is dealing with issues of women empowerment and inclusion as well as human rights situation and what steps the House was taking towards the issues.
The diplomat, however, congratulated the country on the adoption of the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act and its domestication by several states.
While hoping that a bilateral bi-national commission between the two would soon be established, he also expressed the readiness of Canada to offer assistance in the area of security, biosafety and cybersecurity.
Present at the meeting were the Chairman, House Committee on Defence, Hon Babajimi Benson; the Chairman Committee of Legislative Agenda Monitoring and Implementation, Hon. Henry Nwawuba; the Chairman, Committee on Women Affairs and Social Development, Hon Wunmi Onanuga, and the Chairman, Committee on Maritime Safety and Education, Hon Lynda Ikpeazu.