8 Things Saraki said to the Senators in the Senate’s 2018 Resumption Speech

8 Things Saraki said to the Senators in the Senate’s 2018 Resumption Speech

On Tuesday, January 16th, 2018, the 8th Senate resumed its plenary activities for the year. The Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, in his resumption speech, discussed the work of the Senate and the way forward. These are 8 of the major things that he said.

1. On the Fuel Scarcity: “When one part of the body is hurting, the whole body hurts, and this holds true for the entire nation.”
I am not unmindful of the sobering fact that the new year has met many citizens in a reflective mood. Many were on the queue for petrol; many households are grief-stricken. This mood of reflection is also one from which no lawmaker is immune; what affects one, affects all. When one part of the body is hurting, the whole body hurts, and this holds true for the entire nation.
 
We have all been witnesses to the hardships with which many Nigerians saw in the new year, stuck on fuel queues tailing from petrol stations in many of our cities. It has been disheartening to see, especially during the festive period when Nigerians should have been enjoying carefree time with their loved ones, with enough petrol in their tanks to make that cherished journey to the various hometowns.
 
2. On the Fuel Scarcity: “We, as representatives of the people, feel the pain of the people.”
We, as representatives of the people, feel the pain of the people. Things being the way they were, we could not but respond to the crisis. I therefore had to direct members of the Senate Investigative Panel on Fuel Scarcity cut short their recess to commence hearings into the lingering problem; and that work is ongoing. I commend the committee for their prompt response and the work carried out.
 
We seek the cooperation and understanding of Nigerians as we try to get to the bottom of this issue. My own estimation of the fuel scarcity phenomenon is that it is man-made. We thought we had left the problem of fuel queues firmly in the past in this country, but sadly, that appears not to be the case. In any event, there is a problem, and it must be solved. We await the findings of the Investigative Panel on Fuel Scarcity, firm in our resolve that whoever is responsible must pay the price for visiting this needless hardship upon our people.
 
3. On the Benue Killings: “We condemn these killings in the strongest terms, and we declare that mindless bloodletting has no place in our society.”
Distinguished colleagues, you will agree with me that even more sober reflection attends the killings in some parts of the country, particularly recent tragic events in Benue State. We condemn these killings in the strongest terms, and we declare that mindless bloodletting has no place in our society. I offer our sincerest condolences to the people of Benue, and indeed to all who have suffered the loss of their loved ones as a result of these wanton acts.
 
Human life is sacred. We state without equivocation that Nigerian life must become sacred. When we fail in our duty to protect Nigerian lives, it is a tragedy and an indictment on us all. We as the 8th Senate stand ready to help find solutions to assuage the hurt to affected parts, to bring the perpetrators to justice and to enthrone peace in all four corners of this country.
 
Let me state that the 8th Senate is disturbed by these unfortunate incidents, and we have been for some time. We were concerned enough to have inaugurated the Ad-Hoc Committee on Security in November of last year. And so it was that, with the shocking reports from Benue, Rivers and other places, the Security Committee members also cut short their recess to resume sitting, with a view to fast-tracking their investigations, in order to present an interim report for the Senate’s consideration immediately on resumption.  I really must commend the committee for their swift action in this regard; and I am happy to note that the Interim Report is ready for the consideration of this chamber.

 4. On the Work of the Senate: “We cannot lose momentum, nor can we afford to rest on our oars.”
We are a people-oriented Senate, and I believe I speak for us all when I pledge that we shall continue to demonstrate similar dedication to our duties this year, as worthy representatives of the people who voted us into office.
 
Distinguished colleagues, the 8th Senate has continued its historic run, because by the end of 2017, we had passed 140 Bills over a period of 30 months. The landmark Economic Bills we passed, helped to propel the country’s emergence from recession, powering us upwards in the Ease of Doing Business Report. While the legislative feats of the year gone by shall go down in the annals of lawmaking in this country, what is also true is that we cannot lose momentum, nor can we afford to rest on our oars.

5. “This is Nigeria’s time. Let us devote ourselves to her service.”
Going into the new year, I can only wish each and every one of us the best as we prepare for the task ahead. It is a crucial year. As you all know, this, in all probability, will be the last productive year before we go into the 2019 electioneering period. Not only is there a need to up the ante in terms of productivity, it is important we keep our eyes on the big picture. Let us not be caught in the political fray before due season. To each and every thing under the sun, its own time. This is Nigeria’s time. Let us devote ourselves to her service. It is therefore imperative that we speed up consideration on the various bills on which legislative work remains outstanding – particularly economic bills. Calling for similar attention are the other parts of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) related bills still to be passed, namely: the Petroleum Industry Fiscal Bill and the Petroleum Host Community Bill.
 
6.“We must not allow the upcoming 2019 elections to overshadow our work for the people.”
Distinguished colleagues, it is my appeal to each and every one of us, that our legislative duty to Nigeria and her people, must be uppermost in our minds. We must not allow the upcoming 2019 elections to overshadow our work for the people that elected us – or distract us from that which we are mandated to do by the constitution and the trust reposed in us by the people.
 
This is my appeal: it is too early for 2019 politicking to override the legislative agenda and the larger work of governance. We have begun a good thing with the economic core of our agenda; let us see it to its proper conclusion. It would be most insensitive to the needs of the people of this country if we were to do otherwise. I am directing this appeal not only to us in the chamber but to the National Assembly as a whole, as well as to the Executive and indeed all political actors.
 
7. “Let me opine that 2018 will be defined by the collaboration between the two chambers of the 8th National Assembly”
Distinguished colleagues, let me opine that 2018 will be defined by the collaboration between the two chambers of the 8th National Assembly as regards the number of items due for concurrence. We must work to build on the very cordial relationship between the two chambers as witnessed so far, and elevate the level of cooperation, for the benefit the people. To this end, I urge you all to reach out to our counterparts in the House, so that we can fulfil the lawmaking function in the most expeditious manner. This will help streamline the process – and clear the way for the passing of various legislations – making for improved synergy and joined-up working between the two chambers.
 
8. On the Way Forward: “We will not relent in our efforts…”
Currently, distinguished colleagues, there are two major ongoing issues before us – namely the Constitutional Amendment process and the 2018 Appropriation Bill. It is encouraging to see that the Assemblies in the States have already started work on the Constitutional Amendment; I urge us all to keep a keen eye on developments on that front. With regard to the 2018 Budget, let me take this opportunity to give a word of encouragement to the Committee as they work to ensure the proper conduct of the process.

New Year Killings: We Must Remain United Against Violence, Says Saraki

New Year Killings: We Must Remain United Against Violence, Says Saraki

President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has condemned the recent killings in Benue, Rivers and Kaduna States that left countless Nigerians dead, describing the attack on the affected communities as ‘heinous’ and ‘reprehensible’, and called on all Nigerians to remain united in their condemnation of violence.

He said: “The recent killings in this new year that have left many families without their loved ones, and several communities in distress was a reprehensible act of violence. As Nigerians, we must all remain united in our condemnation of violence. Such actions have no place anywhere in our culture . The killers and perpetrators of this callous act must be caught and brought to justice. The Senate will continue to render all necessary support to ensure that this happens.

“I call on our security forces to continue to work around the clock to ensure the safety of the affected communities — and all communities across the nation. Such random and widespread acts of hate and disorder are part of the reasons why last year, we inaugurated an Ad-Hoc Committee to Review Nigeria’s Security Infrastructure for better delivery across the board.

“The committee is still at work, however, now it is clear that we need to review, re-vamp and reposition our security apparatus across the nation to be able to respond to the diverse nature of the crises and concerns of various communities. I still believe that the intelligence gathering aspects of our security system is not measuring up to standard.
“We need to ensure that our security system could gather relevance intelligence and analyse them to prevent activities of hoodlums and insurgents so that we don’t always cry after the milk is split. These killings, like those that occurred in Benue, Rivers and Kaduna are becoming too recurrent and the relevant Senate committees will hold discussion with the Senators from the affected states with a view to having a proper understanding of what the issues are and make appropriate recommendations to the executive”, he stated.

The Senate President further Commiserated with the families who lost their loved ones as well as the government and entire people of Benue, Kaduna and Rivers States on the sad incident.

Signed:

Yusuph Olaniyonu
Special Adviser (Media and Publicity) to the Senate President

Boko Haram: Saraki Lauds US over Sale of Fighter Jets to Nigeria

Boko Haram: Saraki Lauds US over Sale of Fighter Jets to Nigeria

President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has commended the United States government for its support for Nigeria’s bid to defeat the Boko Haram insurgents in the North-east zone through the approval of the sale of A29 Super Tucano fighter jets to the Nigerian Air Force.

Saraki was responding to Wednesday announcement by the Nigeria Air Force that the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Stuart Symington had presented Letters of Offer and Acceptance which represents the official American government’s offer to sell defence articles and services to Nigeria during a visit to Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Sidique Abubakar.

The President of the Senate said the development was a positive indication that the Americans are genuinely desirous of helping to enthrone peace in Nigeria and ending the insurgency in the North-eastern part of the country.

While promising that the Senate would support the plan by the Buhari Adminstration to purchase high powered security equipment in order to strengthen the armed forces, Saraki recalled that on August 28 when he received an eight-man US Congressional delegation headed by Senator Christopher Coons of Delaware, the issue of the need to lift embargo on sale of weapons to Nigeria by the United States was a major point of discussion.

“My gratitude and that of my colleagues goes to Senator Coons and other members of his delegation for giving Congressional backing to this arms sales arrangement. They have kept their words and back it up with action. During that visit, they promised they would help to ensure the arms sales embargo against Nigeria was lifted. Now, we can see that they are true partners in the fight against terrorism in Nigeria.

“It is obvious that if the Congress had vetoed the arm sales deal, we won’t be talking of this expected new fighter jets which will definitely help us to finally defeat the Boko Haram insurgents and fully restore the confidence of our fighting force”, he stated.

The President of the Senate further commended Ambassador Symington for demonstrating consistent commitment to helping Nigeria fully restore peace in the troubled North-east zone. “Since his first meeting with me after he resumed, Ambassador Symington had promised that he would make the lift of the US ban on sale of military hardware to Nigeria one of his priority deliverables. Now, he has shown he is a true partner in Nigeria’s counter-insurgency campaigns”, he added.

He also called on Nigeria’s partners across the world especially in Europe to emulate the United States by also supporting the anti-insurgency campaign of the present administration in the country through gestures like sale of arms and provision of assistance towards the rebuilding, reconstruction and rehabilitation of the war-ravaged areas in the North east.

Saraki urged the Buhari administration to move speedily to conclude all the formalities and make payment in respect of the 12 A29 Super Tucano Aircraft so that the nation’s military could be stronger in confronting the insurgents and giving confidence to the fighting soldiers.

Signed

Yusuph Olaniyonu
Special Adviser (Media and Publicity) to the President of the Senate

Saraki Represents Greater Ideals Than Many Nigerians Know Of’

Saraki Represents Greater Ideals Than Many Nigerians Know Of’

A Senior Advocate, Mallam Yusuf Olaolu Alli today in Ilorin, Kwara State said Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki represents great ideals which only those who interacted with him and observe him closely would know about.

 

Alli who spoke while receiving the Senate President and his entourage who paid him a visit to commiserate with him on the death of his father added that it was always a surprise each time he realized that many people who expressed opinions about the Senate President really do not have an idea of the type of political leader that he is.

 

He praised Saraki for upholding the ideals of the holy prophet Muhammed through his visit to his (Alli’s) bereaved family as is expected of one Muslim brother to another Muslim brother. He added that the visit was a fulfillment of a promise the Senate President made when he called on phone after hearing the news of the demise of his father.

 

In his response, Saraki said he came to commiserate with Alli who he described as “an honourary special adviser” since he was Governor of Kwara State” and “a shinning star in our dear state”.

 

He prayed that the Almighty Allah should grant the departed father of the Senior Advocate a place in Aljannah Firdaus and continue to bless the family he left behind.

 

Yusuph Olaniyonu

Special Adviser

(Media and Publicity) to Senate President

Saraki’s Media Office Replies African Confidential Re – Ambitious Men

Saraki’s Media Office Replies African Confidential

Re – Ambitious Men

This letter comes to directly refute the information reported in your most recent publication whereby in an article titled ‘Ambitious Men’ you wrote that the President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, was one of “those who stood against Muhammadu Buhari for the All Progressives Congress nomination in 2014”. The story also mentioned erroneously that Dr. Saraki has “retained London Communications consultants Aequitas, which helped Labour Party to remake its image under Tony Blair in the mid-1990s”.

First, please note that your claims above are not correct. Dr Saraki did not contest the last Presidential primaries of the All Progressives Congress. Dr. Saraki publicly announced in a statement in Ilorin on October 12, 2014 that he would not contest against Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) who was then an aspirant because “some of us need to make sacrifice and be part of the solution rather than part of the problem of the party”. He then declared that he would support the candidacy of the retired General. Dr. Saraki was one of the people who worked tirelessly to ensure General Buhari won the APC ticket, and the general election.

Again, contrary to the claim in your article, Dr Saraki does not retain the services of Aequitas. He formerly engaged Aequitas for strategic policy services while he was Governor of Kwara State, and Chair of the Nigeria Governors Forum, and at the initial stage of his period as Senate President. He no longer retains the services of Aequitas effective from January 1, 2017.

The Senate President has repeatedly stated that his interest now is to reform the Senate and make it an institution whose impact and relevance is felt and appreciated by the generality of the people. He has equally pledged his full support for and commitment to the success of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Dr. Saraki has long admired the important contributions Africa Confidential has made to increasing global understanding about African affairs and policy. It is his hope that your publication can continue this fine tradition, while also paying attention to the sensitivity of the information it disseminates on current affairs in the countries of Africa.

Sincerely,

Yusuph Olaniyonu

Special Adviser (Media and Publicity) to the Senate President

Saraki to FG: Set Up Review Panel on Workers’ Demands

Saraki to FG: Set Up Review Panel on Workers’ Demands

 

Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki has advised the Federal Government to immediately constitute a panel consisting of stakeholders to work on demands of Nigerian workers for increased wages and arrears of pension, promotion and allowances.

 

Saraki while speaking with newsmen at the Eagles Square, Abuja, venue of the May Day Celebration said if the workers had allowed the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr. Chris Ngige, to address them he would have announced some plans that the government had for the workers.

 

He said the Government needs to quickly move to address all the issues that the workers are angry about and expressed the readiness of the National Assembly to play its part in ensuring that the workers get their dues.

 

“Government must set up a high-powered committee representing all stakeholders who have the ability to engender confidence across board. They must be given clear terms of references and realistic time to conclude their work and make recommendations.

 

“We in the National Assembly are ready to play our part to ensure that the appropriation of necessary funds and enactment of appropriate laws to back up the resultant policies”, he said.

 

He said the government appreciated the patience, understanding and co-operation that the workers had extended to the Administration since its inception, particularly at this period of economic challenge and that their positive attitude will not be taken for granted.

 

He added that the National Assembly members had on their own increased the proposed provision in the 2017 budget being worked on to take care of pension of retired workers. He also said the legislature could easily at the last stage of the budget process include provisions to take care of the financial implication of redressing arrears of promotion and allowances.

 

He added that the National Assembly would at all times be responsive and responsible to the yearnings of the workers and that they would always show understanding of the plight of workers.

 

Signed

Yusuph Olaniyonu

Special Adviser (Media and Publicity) to the Senate President

Saraki Calls for Concerted Efforts to #BringBackOurGirls

Saraki Calls for Concerted Efforts to #BringBackOurGirls

Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki has called for concerted efforts to bring back the over 200 school girls that were abducted from their secondary school in Chibok Local Government Area of Borno State three years ago.

Speaking on the third year anniversary of the abductionof the girls, Saraki pledged that the Senate will continue to do everything within its power to advocate for the return of the remaining Chibok girls — stating that their safe return will signify the closure of a dark chapter in Nigeria’s history.

“I speak on behalf of all Nigerians who truly care, mothers and fathers especially, who cannot imagine the pain of not knowing whether or not one’s abducted child is alive or not,” the Senate President said, “I know that this government is continuing to explore all options to secure the release of the remaining girls. We will continue to support the administration’s efforts in every way that we can.”

The Senate President also expressed optimism that one day, all the Chibok Girls will be returned back to their loved ones, while reassuring Nigerians and the international community that Nigeria will not stop looking for its missing school girls.

“They are our daughters. We will not stop looking for them. We will not give up the fight until they return back home to us,” he said, “Until that day, we will all continue to watch and pray for their safe return.”

END

World Health Day 2017: Saraki Raises Alarm Over Withdrawal of International Funding for HIV/AIDS in Nigeria

World Health Day 2017: Saraki Raises Alarm Over Withdrawal of International Funding for HIV/AIDS in Nigeria
President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, on Thursday called for increased global attention for HIV/AIDS funding in Nigeria.
In a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media & Publicity, Mr. Yusuph Olaniyonu, on the occasion of World Health Day 2017, Saraki, who is a medical doctor by training, stated that with the decision by major foreign donors to suspend funding for Nigeria’s HIV/AIDs programs, the fate of over 3.4million Nigerians living with the infection would remain uncertain.
“Information at our disposal reveals that significant global support for HIV/AIDs in Nigeria has been withdrawn,” the Senate President said, “In order not to jeopardize the treatment of the millions of Nigerians that are living with HIV and AIDS, at this point, government at all levels must continue to work with our international partners to identify alternative sources of funding.
“Without careful planning now, the negative impact of the funding decrease in HIV/AIDs programming is not far off. The fire brigade approach will not work on this issue, foresight, preparation and strategies must be put in place to mitigate against the potential threat to human life.
“Additionally, we must assemble a team of prominent medical professionals and eminent Nigerians both at home and abroad to create a campaign to persuade the donor community to reconsider their decision to stop HIV/AIDs funding,” he said.
The Senate President also stated that the Senate would work to ensure that there are no gaps in the HIV/AIDS funding regime.
In a similar regard, Saraki expressed optimism about the fact that the government’s external funding requests and the 2017 budget contain provisions to fund initiatives aimed at rolling back the spread of polio and cholera, which have experienced gradual resurgence in the Northern part of the country.
“With the various challenges facing Nigerian’s health infrastructure, now is not the time to retreat on HIV/AIDS.  The loss of funding will create immediate stress on an already overburdened system.  We can overcome the the threat, but what will be the unforeseen price?”
END
 
Signed:
 
Yusuph Olaniyonu
Special Adviser (Media & Publicity) to the President of the Senate

 

CSOs Commend Senate Over Meningitis Response

CSOs Commend Senate Over Meningitis Response

A coalition of over 40 Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), that work to ensure equitable access to vaccines in Nigeria, has commended the 8th Senate for its resolution, which called for meningitis vaccination to be made free in public healthcare facilities across the country.

In a statement signed by Dr. Chizoba Wonodi, the national convener of the coalition – Women Advocates for Vaccine Access (WAVA) – the CSOs “noted with pleasure, the motion on the floor of the Senate calling for free Meningitis C vaccination for all Nigerians.”

The group noted that the timely response of the Senate and its readiness to approve a supplementary budget to enable the executive tackle the menace shows that all relevant stakeholders are “responding to the epidemic by ensuring adequate coordination, awareness creation, social mobilization, case management, infection prevention and control, active surveillance, and reactive vaccination in the affected States.”

The National Convener of WAVA, Dr. Chizoba Wonodi said: “My heart bleeds for all Nigerians who have lost loved ones or have been hospitalized following the meningitis outbreak in the country.

“We at WAVA are however, consoled by the fact that all arms of government are working together to deal with the outbreak decisively. The resolution by the Senate to support free Meningitis C vaccination and supplementary appropriations to procure the vaccines is highly commendable.

“We urge the National Assembly to go further and appropriate sufficient funds for all vaccines as Nigeria transitions from Gavi support. We laud the efforts of the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH), the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), the state governments, the World Health Organization and other partners who are dealing with this outbreak.”

The National Convener of WAVA concluded by stating that, “the Meningitis C vaccine, like other vaccines, saves lives, prevents illness and saves the cost of treatment. Nigerians should cooperate with the outbreak response and avail themselves of the Meningitis C vaccine.

“Government has an important role to play in assuring that we have vaccines to protect the health of our people. This role is now more important than ever before, as Gavi gradually withdraws its funding support over the next five years. The government and people of Nigeria must rise to the occasion and raise the needed funding for vaccines.”

END

Signed:

Sanni Onogu
Chief Press Secretary to the President of the Senate

 

‘Why Germany Should Support Nigeria’s Economic Recovery Effort’

‘Why Germany Should Support Nigeria’s Economic Recovery Effort’

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Head of Bundestrat, the upper chamber of the German Parliament, Ms Malu Dreyer, has said that Nigeria as the leading country in Africa must be economically strong and therefore deserved the support of a European giant like her country.

Dreyer who spoke at the weekend while receiving a delegation of the Senate led by its President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, in Berlin said Germany attached great importance to the strong relationship with Nigeria and will support the on-going economic recovery programme in the country.

She said the country will look towards extending the special partnership and grassroots co-operation which it presently has with Rwanda to Nigeria and that more exchange programmes between the two countries should be initiated.

The Bundestrat President who has just one year tenure, in line with the country’s federal constitution, promised to raise the request made by Saraki for stronger economic co-operation with the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel and Secretary in charge of Economic Co-operation and Development, Mr. Muller.

“The partnership between Nigeria and Germany is very important and should be nurtured. This partnership at a very high level can help the entire population in  Nigeria.  We have to do all that is necessary to support Africa to prevent internal crisis that would later plague Europe.

“We should empower African nations to enable the people and their government take their fate into their own hands. We have a gain to make from this co-operation. We are faced with refugee situation and to save ourselves the escalation of this problem, we have to tackle the root cause of migration by helping African countries to be economically strong and buoyant. That is why we must help Africa” she said.

In the area of renewable energy, Dreyer said Germany would be ready to help Nigeria through exchange of technical information and exchange programmes as the clean source of power is the future of energy resource in the world and her country had made much progress in the area.

Saraki while responding to the message of his German counterpart reiterated the need for Germany to partner Nigeria in the areas of economic co-operation, security and renewable energy as both are continental leaders whose well being have positive implications for Africa and Europe.

He noted that the Senate delegation was in Berlin to strengthen the existing relationship between both countries as represented by the visit of the German President to Nigeria last year in company with some businessmen.

“We appreciate cordial relationship between Germany and Nigeria. We need German support as our government works hard through progressive policies and legislations aimed at overcoming our current challenges and engaging our youths who form about 70 percent of the population.

“It maybe true that we have economic challenges but the fundamentals remain good and even the prospects are better. That is why we are seriously working to diversify the economy and move away from the dependence on oil. We are moving into agriculture, mining of numerous mineral resources and manufacturing. These areas alongside energy production and funding of key infrastructural projects are areas that German business people can invest in”, he said.

He said power is one area where Nigeria required serious help as its inadequacy affects the success of businesses and limits the productive ability of the people. He urged Germany to provide necessary support to Nigeria through business investment in the sector, provision of technical assistance and sharing of knowledge.

The Senate President added that German support was needed to solve the security crisis in the North-East of Nigeria and that the country was at the point where the displaced people have to be rehabilitated, resettled in rebuilt homes and environment as well as be re-assured that cases of isolated attacks by the insurgents would cease.

The Senate delegation which had visited the Feldheim village where the people are self-sufficient and totally dependent on renewable energy also held talks at the Berlin House of Representatives, the Bundestag and Bundestrat (lower and upper chamber of the German Parliament) and visited the MediaTeam IT Education Centre in Berlin, one of the success stories of Nigerians  living in Germany, the Defence section of the Nigerian Embassy and later had a lunch meeting with Nigerians resident in Germany.

End

Signed

Yusuph Olaniyonu
Special Adviser (Media and Publicity to the Senate President)