Saraki urges Senators to be of good conduct as legislative activities resume

Senate President, Bukola Saraki on Tuesday urged Senators irrespective of party differences to be of good conduct as legislative activities resumes.

In his opening speech to mark commencement of legislative activities after a two months recess, he recalled that the 8th National Assembly has lost some periods for sundry reasons and noted that except extra time was put in to tackle daunting challenges, they will not be able to meet up.

“In the face of challenges, that our country faces on different fronts, which urgently demands our attention, we must be prepared to put in extra hours to make up precious times we have lost”, he said.

He was emphatic that Senators should at this auspicious time downplay selfish interest, place Nigeria ahead of all and demonstrate readiness to serve the nation, contrary which he said would be counter productive.

“As we resume today, we must demonstrate clearly to Nigerians that we are prepared to fulfill our mandates and put Nigeria first in all that we do, no matter how we feel about anything else. To behave contrary will amount to a betrayal of the confidence repose on us by our constituencies and our country as a whole”, he maintained.

Saddened by the Hajj Stampede that led to deaths in which some Nigerians were affected, Saraki reiterated the readiness of Nigeria Senate to work with Saudi Authorities to ascertain the immediate and remote cause of the incident so as to avoid future occurrence.

“The Senate shall seek to determine the exact number of Nigerian lives lost in the incidents and through the FederalGovernment of Nigeria, work with the Saudi authorities to determine the remote and immediate cause of the tragedy with the general aim of averting such occurrence in the future”, he added

He commended President Buhari and other African leaders for promptly restoring Constitutional order in Bukina Faso, stressing that Nigeria stands to condemn the illegality of Coup any time any day, asserting that a threat to democracy anywhere is a threat everywhere.

“I commend President Muhammadu Buhari and other African leaders, not only in unanimously condemning the coup, but in pushing hard to ensure that the constitutional order is restored in that country. A threat to democracy anywhere, is a threat to democracy everywhere. We must therefore remain vigilant and leave no one in doubt that only democratically elected government would be accepted on our Continent and our Sub-region.”, he stressed.

Saraki noted that he had used the opportunity of recess alongside other colleagues to attend Inter-Parliamentary conference in New York, United States which the issue of security challenges in Nigeria featured in their discussion prominently, pointing that though Boko Haram was a regional issue, it needs global support and mobilization to be able to deal decisively on it.

According to him, the team argued for a complementary global robust economic blueprint because of successes recorded by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari within a short time so as to deliver the needed services for IDPs to live a more meaningful life.

He added that Boko Haram may be a Nigerian problem, but human catastrophe would have global consequences, hence there was need for global solution.

“Though, the evolution of Boko Haram has been regional and it is primarily a Nigerian problem; the consequences in human catastrophe implicates the whole of humanity and therefore demands a global scale solution, which can only happen with the support of our richest global partners and the biggest companies around the world”, Saraki added.

The Senate President decried the dwindling revenue of the country which has led to ineffective implementation of this year’s budget, pointing that Senate would plot 2016 budget based on the economic reality, while taking into consideration enormous challenge of the nation which the Executive arm of government was already doing its best.

“We shall therefore commence immediately, a review of the 2015 budget and begin now to lay down the fundamental principles that would determine the 2016 budget and the philosophy of our economy in times like this. Like I mentioned earlier, legislative agenda must take precedent over all other things in this Senate. I have no doubt that we are all capable of putting in the long hours, but those long hours must be invested primarily, in debating and making the laws that would move our country forward”. He noted.

“We are here to proffer policy solutions and minimize hardship amongst our people. Any other objective must be secondary. The externalized distractions we have had recently have been unhelpful but I am more than ever focused and resolute to the course of our people to provide them leadership that will ease their pain and realize their dreams. It is in view of this that we set for ourselves the legislative agenda committee to help us identify priorities that will have substantial impact on the lives of our people.

”In the coming days we shall be considering the report of the Committee, adopt it and immediately begin the implementation of the priorities identified. There will be need to fast track issues- not with haste but with deliberate steps and diligence that would deliver results that can stand the test of time.

”We promised Nigerians that our actions would positively impact on their lives. This I intend to keep. In that light I will urge you my distinguished colleagues that we make priority the passing of bills that would ultimately and substantially expand our peoples livelihood and opportunities.

”As part of our agenda, we shall also be starting the journey to deliver the E-parliament blueprint. This we believe is a vital precursor to building a strong technology infrastructure that will engender greater public participation in law-making and enable real-time interface between committees in both houses, and between both houses and civil society organizations.

”I took opportunity of the recess to undertake tour of the facilities, staff offices, agencies and institutions attached to the National assembly with a view to understanding their various peculiarities and state of readiness to implement and drive the adoption of the E-parliament agenda.

”This will see us leapfrog into the ranks of efficient law-making entities able to solve 21st century problems. I believe that this will leapfrog our productivity and make lawmaking in this chamber much more efficient.

”As we await the list of ministerial nominees this week, I believe the presence of ministers will create the space for greater policy engagement with the Executive Arm of government and enable us to begin to respond in a more systematic manner to the various economic and social challenges before us, especially through our various Committees that will also be constituted soon. On this note, I want to urge you all my colleagues to ensure that what is uppermost in our minds as we begin the constitutional task of screening of ministerial nominees is the overall interest of our country, informed by the enormity and the urgency of the challenges before us. Once the list is submitted, let us ensure that we treat it with dispatch and thoroughness. We must not be held down by unnecessary politicking. The enormity of our national challenges at this time does not give room for pettiness or politics of vendetta.

”Distinguished Senators, I believe you have all followed with keen interest, my trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal. I shall avoid discussing the details of that case here for obvious reasons. Meanwhile, I wish to reiterate my remarks before the Tribunal, that I have no iota of doubt that I am on trial today because I am the president of the Nigerian Senate, against the wishes of some powerful individuals outside this Chambers. But what is clear to me also, is that the laws of Nigeria, and the rules of the National Assembly give consideration only to the wishes and desires of those of you who are here today as members of the Senate, to elect as you wish, one of your peers as President of the Senate. This, in your wisdom, is what you have done by electing me tobe the first among all of you who are my equals. The laws of Nigeria does not give any consideration to any other forces outside the Senate in the election of its President. And to yield the ground on this note, is to be complicit in the subversion of democracy and its core principles of separation of powers as enshrined in our constitution. This is why we must once again, commend President Muhammadu Buhari, for refusing to interfere in the election of the National Assembly leadership even in the face of enormous pressures on him to do so. He has proven quite concretely that he is indeed a born-again democrat.”
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