Press Release November 20, 2017 Saraki Mourns Ekwueme, Commiserates With Nigeria, Family

Press Release
November 20, 2017

Saraki Mourns Ekwueme, Commiserates With Nigeria, Family

President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has expressed grief over the demise of the first elected Vice-President of Nigeria, Dr. Alex Ekwueme.

Saraki in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, in Abuja, also lauded the dedication and service of Ekwueme to the development of the country.

He described Ekwueme as a rare personality and an exceptional leader while praying to God for the repose of his soul, and the grace for his family and the nation to bear the loss.

Saraki said: “Today, I join the entire nation to mourn the passing of one of Nigeria’s most illustrious sons, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, our first elected Vice-President. As we mourn his death, we celebrate his dedication and service to the development of our country.

“We remember his unique and exemplary courage in the face of overwhelming odds – when he stood up to past military regimes in the struggle for restoration of democracy and his dexterity in his personal pursuits as a successful architect, lawyer, businessman and philanthropist.

“Dr. Ekwueme was a rare man and a great leader. He will be sorely missed. I pray for God’s strength for his family at this difficult time. May the Almighty God in his infinite wisdom and grace continue to guide the family and the nation that he has left behind,” he said.

END

Signed:

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

Press Release: Saraki Urges Auditors-General to Block Revenue Leakages in Public Service

Press Release
November 17, 2017

Saraki Urges Auditors-General to Block Revenue Leakages in Public Service

President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has called on Auditors-General in the country, particularly at the Local Government level, to partner with the Senate in its current effort to block financial leakages and ensure that maximum revenue accrues to government at all levels in the Federation.

Saraki, according to a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Sanni Onogu, gave the charge when the national executive of the Conference of the Auditors-General for Local Governments in Nigeria, led by its National Chairman, Barr. Reuben Osita Nwosu, visited him at the National Assembly, Abuja.

He noted that the visit was apt by coming at a time the 8th Senate is intensifying efforts to enhance government’s non-oil revenue through thorough scrutinization of revenue generation activities in Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and demanding accountability and transparency in their operations.

“I want to urge the Conference of the Auditors General for Local Governments in Nigeria to join hands with the Senate in ensuring that governments at all levels get all the revenues that are due to them,” Saraki stated.

He noted the concerns of the association regarding granting autonomy to the offices of the Auditors General throughout the federation by amending the Constitution to strengthen their capacity to carry out their legitimate functions.

Saraki said: “In fact, one of the amendments we have carried out on the Constitution is financial autonomy to Local Governments and I am sure that will go a long way in helping them to have a more transparent and accountable finance system.

“I totally agree with you that in doing that we must also strengthen the autonomy of the Auditors-General because since we are giving those kind of responsibilities to local governments.

“It is necessary that we support that with the necessary tools that will ensure that they are effective because if you don’t do that, the capacity at the local governments with those kind of responsibilities will be defeated,” he said.

Earlier, the National Chairman of Auditors-General for Local Governments in Nigeria, Barr. Reuben Osita Nwosu, who led other national executive members of the association on the visit, said that the country cannot entrench accountability and transparency in the public service without guaranteed autonomy through administrative and financial independence for Auditors-General at the three tiers of government.

Nwosu who is the Auditor General for Local Governments in Imo State, said: “At the Local Government level with the granting of financial autonomy to the Local Government Councils, there arose a greater need to strengthen the capacity of the office of Auditors-General for Local Governments.

“Financial autonomy to the Local Government Councils without granting autonomy through administrative and financial independence to the Auditors-General for Local Governments would be counter productive,” he stated.

He said that the association was excited at the progress made so far in the amendment of the Constitution by the National Assembly adding that the “exercise would greatly remove all Constitutional impediments on the granting of autonomy through financial and administrative independence to the Office of the Auditors-General at the Federal, State and Local Governments in the country.”

END

Signed

Sanni Onogu
Chief Press Secretary to the President of the Senate

Press Release: Saraki: Senate to Partner NBA To Ease Passage Of Bills

Press Release

November 16 2017

 

Saraki: Senate to Partner NBA To Ease Passage Of Bills

 

Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has pledged the cooperation of the Senate with the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to ensure easy passage of bills before the Upper House.

 

He also immediately directed that all pending and prospective bills before the Senate be made available to the NBA for their input which he said would improve the quality of such bills.

 

The Senate President spoke when the NBA Legislative Advocacy Committee led by Paul Erokoro (SAN) paid a courtesy visit to him at the National Assembly to solicit that the association be allowed to make its input to bills being considered by the Senate before passage.

 

According to a statement by the Special Assistant to the Senate President on Print Media, Chuks Okocha, Saraki said that he was in complete agreement with the NBA that their input is necessary before bills go for public hearings.

 

Saraki said, “l agree with you entirely as part of recommendations that we must have collaborations. I am surprised that our bills are new to you and that you don’t have free access to them. We have these bills on our website. You should be able to access them.

 

“Going forward, I think that instead of you waiting for us, by your experience, there are areas that require necessary input and I think we should be able to collaborate closely.

 

“We’ve done this in the business sector where we set up a working group with Nigeria Economic Summit Group and my office and we’ve been able to work together in some business related bills.

 

“Some of these bills require amendment, some are outdated, and some are not inline with today’s practice. We have been able to come out with a road map which we are following and the economic sector is enjoying the efforts in the business communities and infrastructure.

 

“We’ve passed the Railway Bill, Road Transport, Company and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) and Secured Transaction bills. All these are as a result of collaboration. If there are other areas that need amendment or on general issues in the society, we want the NBA to partner with us. We will be very happy to work closely with you. All we can assure you is that it is our responsibility to pass these relevant Bills.

 

“The society has changed drastically and the times have changed. So, as we send these Bills to you, I think there should be some initiative from your own part too and we assure you that there will be prompt attention on our part to fast-track such bills”, the Senate President.

 

Earlier, Mr. Erokoro, had solicited the help of the Senate President to enable the NBA make input in all pending or prospective bills before the Senate to ensure that all legalistic knots are tied before such bills are taken before public hearings.

 

The Chairman of the NBA Legislative Advocacy Committee also demanded for a register of all pending bills before the Senate to enable them conduct a research on the bills, stating that such partnership would enable bills passed by the National Assembly to stand the necessary legal test.

 

He explained that the setting up of the NBA Legislative Advocacy Committee was in fulfillment of the promise made by the National President of NBA, when he visited the Senate President earlier in the year.

 

Signed:

 

Chuks Okocha

Special Assistant to the President of Senate on Print Media

 

Press Release: Healthcare Reform: Senate Canvasses Implementation of One Percent Clause in 2014 Health Law

Press Release
November 15, 2017

Healthcare Reform: Senate Canvasses Implementation of One Percent Clause in 2014 Health Lawn

The Senate, on Wednesday, called for the implementation of the one per cent clause in the 2014 National Health Act, aimed at ensuring that one percent of the Consolidated Revenue Fund is devoted to restoring and revitalizing the nation’s health sector.

The demand came during the consideration of a Motion sponsored by Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso (Kano Central), on the alarming upsurge of Malaria in the country, with the Senate observing that 97% of Nigeria is at risk of malaria while the disease accounts for 60 percent of out-patient visits and 30 percent of hospitalizations of children under 5-years old around the country.

In his comments, Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, stated that the Motion raised by Senator Kwankwaso, was genuine and germane, and that the malaria issue could be addressed with the implementation of the 2014 National Health Act.

“The issue of malaria and primary healthcare across the nation goes back to the issue of funding. We have a law that has been in place since 2014 which was passed by this chamber and up till now has not been implemented,” the Senate President said, “We must also work to ensure that the Appropriations Committee works to ensure that we meet the requirements of the National Health Act in the 2018 budget.”

The Senate also called for the enforcement of the African Union’s 2001 Abuja Declaration, that is aimed at ensuring increased funding for the Federal Ministry of Health, as well as ensuring the full implementation of the National Health Act.

Other prayers in the Motion urged the Federal Ministry of Health to effectively partner with states, local government authorities and development partners to scale up and streamline the coordination of the integrated vector management and control programmes across Nigeria.

END

Signed:

Media Office of the President of the Senate

Press Release: Saraki Congratulates Emir of Ilorin on 22nd Anniversary

Press Release

November 11, 2017

 

Saraki Congratulates Emir of Ilorin on 22nd Anniversary

 

President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, on Saturday congratulated the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji (Dr.) Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari CFR, on attaining 22 years on the throne of his forebears.

 

Saraki in a statement by his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, in Abuja, described the Mai-Martaba Sarkin Ilorin, as an exceptional royal father whose reign has witnessed peace and phenomenal development in the Ilorin Emirate in particular and Kwara State in general.

 

He stated that the Emir has continued to encourage progressive initiatives that have engendered unity, peace and tolerance in and around the state, worthy of emulation.

 

“I join all Kwarans and Nigerians at large to congratulate you on your 22nd anniversary on the highly revered throne of the Ilorin Emirate,” Saraki stated. “It is my prayer that Allah grant you excellent health, prosperity and many more years to continue in your immeasurable service to the people of Ilorin, Kwara State and the nation at large.”

END

 

Signed

Yusuph Olaniyonu

Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, to the President of the Senate

 

Press Release: UN Scribe Lauds NASS Relationship with Executive

Press Release

November 9, 2017
UN Scribe Lauds NASS Relationship with Executive 

The United Nations has commended the good relations between the Executive and the 8th National Assembly as exhibited by the lawmakers at the joint session of the National Assembly on Tuesday, during the presentation of the 2018 Budget by  President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambers, gave the commendation when he visited the President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, in Abuja on Wednesday.
The former ECOWAS boss, according to a statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the President of the Senate, Sanni Onogu, in Abuja, said the excellent collaboration between the executive and the legislature augurs well not just for the stability and peace of the country, the ECOWAS subregion and indeed, Africa in general.
He said that the visit to the leadership of the National Assembly was part of the UN’s consultation with relevant stakeholders as the country prepares for the 2019 general elections.
Chambers said: “First and foremost, allow me, Mr. President, to express our appreciation and indeed our admiration for what we witnessed yesterday (Tuesday), during the joint session of the National Assembly to receive the budget statement of the President of the Republic and indeed the very collaborative atmosphere that characterized that important constitutional exercise by the President of the Republic.
“We all know that when such collaboration exists between these two key arms of government, it augurs well for Nigeria and by extension the West African subregion and indeed Africa as a whole.
“The UN Secretary General has always admired the leadership of this country and that leadership is a shared leadership by the Executive, the Legislature and of course the Judiciary and other civil societies and important stakeholders.
“Therefore, what we witnessed was truly admirable and we want to you commend you as leader of Senate and leader of the National Assembly for that,” Chambers said.
In his response to the remarks of the UN Scribe, Saraki stated that the National Assembly, irrespective of party affiliations, will continue to “work closely” with the executive to enable the President achieve his developmental agenda for the overall benefit of Nigerians.
“We are always ready to work very  closely with the executive,” Saraki said. “We are partners in progress and we believe that the success of the administration would truly depend on the collaboration between the two arms of government and we have both seen that sense of responsibility.
“We are all committed across party lines in the National Assembly and we will work with Mr. President for the success of the administration and for him to be able to deliver on his promises and to be able to do that we must be able to work very closely together.
“What you saw yesterday (Tuesday) is really an indication of what you will see from now going forward so that some of those promises we need to address and bring to fruition will happen,” Saraki stated.
END
Signed:
Sanni Onogu
Chief Press Secretary to the President of the Senate 

Press Release: Saraki Congratulates New NASFAT’s Chief Missioner, AbdulAzeez

Press Release
November 7, 2017

Saraki Congratulates New NASFAT’s Chief Missioner, AbdulAzeez

President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, on Tuesday, congratulated the newly appointed Chief Missioner of the Nasrul-Lahi-Li- Fathi Society (NASFAT), Imam Maruf Onike AbdulAzeez.

Saraki, who is the Baba Adinni of Ansar-ul- Islam Worldwide, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, said the appointment was well deserved and described Imam AbdulAzeez as a consummate scholar, highly educated and enlightened religious leader whose tenure will witness immense growth and development in NASFAT.

“Your contributions to the progress of NASFAT in the last two decades attest to your worthiness to occupy and deliver in your new office,” Saraki said. “With your experience, integrity, education and spiritual savviness, I am confident that you will work with others in the Society’s Mission Board and Board of Trustees to take the society to enviable heights.”

Saraki also lauded the entire leadership of NASFAT for their commitment in spreading spiritual light which has greatly contributed to the betterment of the Nigerian society, their investment in the education sector and their many acts of charity which have led millions of people to the path of righteousness and Godliness.

“NASFAT has been in the forefront of bringing together more muslims who are educated, patriotic, committed to spreading the message of Allah (SWT) and tolerant of people of other faith. It is my belief that the society under Imam Abdulazeez would consolidate on the present achievements and break new grounds”, the Senate President stated.

He urged the leadership and members of the Islamic body not to relent in their prayers for the security, peace and overall development of the country.

END

Signed:

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

Press Release: Paradise Papers: Saraki Hides No Asset and Violates No Law

Press Release 

November 6, 2017

 

Paradise Papers: Saraki Hides No Asset and Violates No Law

 

Once again, the issue of offshore company registration which was first raised in 2016 is being revived and thrown to the public space. As a responsible public officer, Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, will continue to explain his position. We know this is the period of politics when mudslinging is a common trick in the game.

 

However, we will like to make it known that Dr. Saraki violated no law and did nothing illegal in the course of registering the company under reference, Tenia Limited, and afterwards.

 

As we had earlier explained when the issue was first brought into public view, the company in question, Tenia Limited, was incorporated in 2001, long before Dr. Saraki ventured into politics and was elected into public office.

 

The company from incorporation to date had never been used for any transaction. It held no asset. It had no bank account to the best of the knowledge of Dr. Saraki. Even if it did, the Senate President was not a signatory to such account. This is just a paper company and therefore could not have been used to hide any asset.

 

The company, unlike the other ones investigated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), had been a dormant entity from creation such that when in late 2015, its existence was raised with the Senate President, he could not readily recollect that there was such a company linked to him. He then immediately directed that the company be struck off.

 

For the umpteenth time, we will reiterate the fact that the Senate President has fully complied with the law on assets declaration, even as it concerns the company under reference.

 

We call on all members of the public to disregard the claims and insinuations suggesting that the company in question was incorporated to perpetrate any illegality or that its existence violates any law.

 

Signed

 

Yusuph Olaniyonu 

Special Adviser (Media and Publicity) to Senate President

 

Press Release: Executive, Legislature Not in Competition, Says SGF ….Pledge Closer Collaboration with National Assembly

Press Release
November 6, 2017

Executive, Legislature Not in Competition, Says SGF
….Pledge Closer Collaboration with National Assembly

Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, on Monday said that the Executive and the Legislature are not in competition but would work together to deliver on the promises of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to Nigerians.

Mustapha according to a statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the President of the Senate, Sanni Onogu in Abuja, stated this when the led a delegation from the Presidency on a courtesy on the President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki and the leadership of the Senate.

He stated that both arms of government must necessarily cooperate if the present government is to achieve its desired results and redeem lost opportunities.

He said that the visit was meant to thank the President of the Senate for personally gracing his sweating-in ceremony as SGF and also to “convey the gratitude of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari and the entirety of the government on the able leadership that you have given the National Assembly as a whole.”

Mustapha said: “The role of the National Assembly is quite distinct. You (National Assembly) legislate for the good governance of the Federation; you provide oversight and you also ensure that funds that are appropriated are used judiciously for the purposes they are meant and for the benefit of the people of Nigeria.

“So your responsibility is so enormous in this enterprise. I will say this and I will say it quite frankly sir, we are not in competition with the National Assembly. We are not rivals with the National Assembly.

“We are joint partners in this enterprise. If the National Assembly does not cooperate with the Presidency, I am not very sure we will be able to achieve the desired result that we want to see given the mandate that we have freely received from the people of Nigeria.

“So, this is basically to come and assure you that in every area that you are soliciting for the cooperation of the Presidency, being the Secretary to the Government, I would ensure that the National Assembly receives that cooperation because jointly if we work together, whatever has been lost in the past we can quickly redeem and recover and make progress so that by the time the first four-year mandate that we received comes to an end we can show on our scorecard that these were the promises we made,” the SGF stated.

The new scribe of the Federal Government added: “Let me put it on record that your leadership has helped tremendously in stabilizing the polity and also given the purposeful direction that we require at the Presidency to ensure that we deliver on the promises that we made to the Nigeria people when we sought for their mandate in 2015.

“You ran for the Senate in your constituency in Kwara State, but I remember vividly serving as the Director, Contact and Mobilization of the Campaign, that you were all over the place campaigning to ensure that President Muhammadu Buhari won the election and we did win decisively.

“So, sir, thank you so much for what you have done to ensure the APC’s victory. After your emergence as the Chairman of the National Assembly and also the President of the Senate, you have provided the kind of leadership that is required, as I said, to stabilize the polity. Nigeria as a nation has been going through some storms that we inherited but because of your able leadership and your colleagues in the Senate and House of Representatives, we have stabilized this process to a large extent.

“Going forward sir, I bring, like I said, the greetings of the Presidency because as the Secretary to the Government, my responsibility is to coordinate the implementation of government policies and to ensure that these policies are synergized in such a manner that we would be able to deliver to the people of Nigeria the good things of life which they rightly deserve.

“In doing that, I will not be able to succeed in that task if I do not get the cooperation of the National Assembly and that is why I am here today to extend the hand of friendship and to solicit for the cooperation of the National Assembly because our constitution is very explicit when it comes to the principle of Separation of Powers.”

Responding, Saraki welcomed the new SGF to the National Assembly and congratulated him on his appointment.

He described the visit as symbolic and a new phase in the executive and legislative cooperation as well as a good omen for the nation’s democracy and the government.

Saraki said: “Let me on behalf of my colleagues welcome you to the Senate and let me thank you for your visit. I think your visit is very symbolic. It is truly a new phase of cooperation between the Executive and the Legislature and a good omen for our democracy and for our government.

“Your visit truly shows your intention of ensuring that you use your period as SGF to ensure that we truly work together to make Nigeria great. You are very right and I think people like us are not surprised because we know your antecedents.

“You know that in the presidential system that we are running in this democracy, it is not possible for us to be able to achieve all our goals if the Executive and Legislature do not have – not just an okay relationship – a fantastic and very close relationship.

“And what you have done this afternoon has really brought that closer and I am sure that all my colleagues are going to appreciate that on the floor tomorrow when I communicate this to them.

“Truly, you have started on a very good note and I congratulate you. Thank you for all your kind words when you talked about some of the work we have done in the past together in bringing the government together and we will continue to work together to ensure that we deliver on our promises.

“As you said, the constitution is very clear on what our responsibilities are. You did not write it and I did not write it, neither did any of us in the National Assembly today but we have all sworn to it and we must continue to ensure that we work with it and that we work for the interest of Nigeria.

“Let me assure you that being the first SGF that we have received here, you will definitely get our cooperation and this will definitely be a new page in relationship between the executive and the legislature and we will do all our best to ensure that whatever the issues are before you, we will act to see how best we can to resolve them and work together,” he said.

END

Signed:

Sanni Onogu
Chief Press Secretary to the President of the Senate

SPEECH BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE,; AT THE PUBLIC HEARING ON THE FEDERAL UNIVERSITY OF HEALTH SCIENCES OTUKPO (ESTABLISMENT, ETC.) BILL 2017 – 6THNOVEMBER, 2017.

SPEECH BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY, SENATOR (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI; AT THE PUBLIC HEARING ON THE FEDERAL UNIVERSITY OF HEALTH SCIENCES OTUKPO (ESTABLISMENT, ETC.) BILL 2017 – 6THNOVEMBER, 2017.

 

 

PROTOCOL.

 

1. My sincere thanks to the Chairman and members of the Senate Committee on Tertiary Education and TETFUND for the invitation to declare open this Public Hearing on the Federal University of Health Sciences Otukpo (Establishment, Etc.) Bill 2017 (SB.504).

 

2. To begin with, let me take this time to thank everyone here today, from officials of the relevant government bodies to other stakeholders in the education and health sectors, as well as concerned members of the general public. That you have made the time to be here for this rescheduled Public Hearing – which has been brought forward by a day – is a demonstration of your commitment to the improvement of education in the country in general, and in particular, the desire to conclude the legislative process regarding the establishment of the Federal University of Health Sciences Otukpo (FUHSO).

 

3. I must also thank the esteemed sponsor of the Bill, my predecessor and former President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Distinguished Senator (Dr.) David Mark (GCON), for his vision and steadfastness. He has spared no effort in promoting the Bill and canvassing for the establishment of FUHSO. His focus on this goal is, no doubt, a measure of his commitment to alleviating the huge shortfall in the education and training of critical personnel in the nation’s health sector – and to the people of Benue South, who the Distinguished Senator represents. Indeed, I understand there is now a clamour in some quarters, as well as among some of my distinguished colleagues, to rename the university, upon its establishment, after Distinguished Senator Mark – and the reason would not be far-fetched, when we consider the passion with which he has prosecuted the cause of the proposed institution. Thank you, Distinguished Senator David Mark, for your leadership.

 

 

4. The Bill seeks the establishment of the Federal University of Health Sciences Otukpo, to scale up the specialized training of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other professionals in the health sector; and to address persisting admission deficit. Figures show that only about 20 per cent of those who qualify and apply are admitted to medical schools in this country. In July of this year, a newspaper survey indicated that, of nearly 160,000 applicants, only 3000 gain admission into Nigerian tertiary institutions to study Medicine and related courses.

 

 

5. Distinguished colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, the question therefore arises: how can Nigeria hope to meet World Health Organisation (WHO) standards of one doctor to 600 patients? We are at the present time lagging behind by all indices, with one doctor to about 5000 Nigerians. 180 million of us are served by 35,000 doctors. In reality, 300,000 more medical practitioners are needed, to properly cater to the health and well-being of our citizens; and help curb the huge revenue of about 3billion naira being lost annually to other countries by way of medical tourism.

 

 

6. This Bill comes not a moment too soon, therefore. It seeks to answer the need for more effective training of our medical personnel. I am confident that, with the quality of experts, educators, practitioners and other stakeholders we have here today, we can have a robust discussion on issues surrounding the establishment of the university. It is indeed an important national assignment, for all who desire a health sector that befits our country in the 21st Century.

 

7. Accordingly, distinguished colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, it is with pleasure that I now declare this Public Hearing open. I wish you fruitful deliberations and look forward to your findings.

 

Thank you.

 

THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE.