Closing Remarks by Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, President of Senate after the conclusion of the Constitution Amendment Process.

Closing Remarks by Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, President of Senate after the conclusion of the Constitution Amendment Process on the floor of the Senate.

 

I want to thank all our colleagues. I want to really commend and appreciate the efforts of our Deputy Senate President and all members of the Constitution Review Committee. This is an exercise for which we gave a promise and we have kept to it. Definitely, we have made history this afternoon with the exercise that we have carried out not only in the timing or the content of the exercise that we have carried out today, what we have done today definitely is to lay the foundation for a far-reaching reform of our political, economic and social development.

 

We have today through the amendments we have done redefined our budget processes. We have addressed issues that have held our country down for many years. We have addressed the issue of saving money earned by the Federation which has always been an issue in this country for many years. The fact is that as a nation we now have a constitution that makes it paramount for the country to save for the rainy days. We have also by the amendments shown our commitment to the fight against corruption by providing for separation and financial autonomy for the offices of the Accountant General, Auditor-General and particularly, the Attorney General.

 

More importantly also, we have opened the road for a new Nigeria where younger people can be elected into all the positions. Also, by the work we have done today, we have helped to improve administration at the local government level which will strengthen our democracy by and large, ensure more credible elections by some of the provisions that we have passed.

 

More importantly, we have introduced constitutional provisions that would help our judiciary in timely dispensation of Justice. By these 29 Bills, Distinguished Senators, I will say that we have laid a new foundation for a new Nigeria that will be more committed, create opportunities for our young people and place us firmly among the nations of the world that are really prepared for the years ahead. To be part of that history is a great honour for all of us and I want to thank you, my colleagues. May God Almighty bless Nigeria.

 

Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, CON.

President of the Senate

26th July, 2017.

 

SPEECH BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY, SENATOR (DR) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, AT THE LAUNCHING OF THE LEGISLATIVE NETWORK FOR UNIVERSAL HEALTH COVERAGE

SPEECH BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY, SENATOR (DR) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, AT THE LAUNCHING OF THE LEGISLATIVE NETWORK FOR UNIVERSAL HEALTH COVERAGE,ON MONDAY 24TH JULY, 2017.

 

Protocols;

 

1. It gives me great pleasure to be here at this occasion for the launching of the Legislative Network for Universal Health Coverage (UHC). This platform is indeed remarkable as it aims to strengthen institutional cooperation to advance legislative activities on health matters.

 

2. The importance of this framework cannot be overstated, as our major role as legislators is to promote the welfare of our citizens; to ensure that effective healthcare systems are available to allNigerians. This informed the desire to draw in the cooperative efforts of both the National and State Assemblies targeted at developing health strategies that will work effectively for all. This for me is another rare opportunity for us to ensure that the legislative effort in both the National and State Assemblies are moving towards the same direction.

 

3. I commend the respective Chairmen of the Senate and House Committees on Health for uniting with leadership of Health Committees in the States to create this Legislative Network for Universal Health Coverage with the support of the Health Governance Group of USAID.

 

4. As it is said, a healthy nation is a wealthy nation. In our efforts to revive the wealth of our nation, thehealth of our people must remain paramount. We must therefore, strive to situate our health resources to optimally serve our population.

 

5. As a nation, we have opted to adopt the Universal Health Coverage which seeks “to ensure that all people obtain the health services they need without suffering financial hardship when paying for them.”

 

6. The poor access to good healthcare in our country especially in the rural areas is a challenge we must tackle through innovative thinking and dedication. Going by a World Bank report, the state of the Nigerian health system is dysfunctional and grossly under-funded with a per capita expenditure of US$ 9.44. Therefore, addressing the issues in financing healthcare in a sustainable manner to reach all Nigerians call for the harmonization of legislative actions at both the National and States levels.

 

7. While “the overall objective of this Summit is to launch a national Legislative Network on UHC, the specific objectives will enhance the knowledge base and understanding of strategies in the legislature,geared towards achieving the goals of Universal Health Coverage.

 

8. Finally, it is my hope that this framework will bring about the effective healthcare systems we envisionfor our country.

 

9. I wish you all success in your deliberations.

 

10. Thank you and God bless us all.

 

PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE

 

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE AND CHAIRMAN OF THE GOVERNING COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR LEGISLATIVE STUDIES (NILS), HIS EXCELLENCY SENATOR (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, AT THE SIGNING OF PROJECT GRANT AGREEMENT BETWEEN NILS, NATIONAL ASSEMBLY AND AFRICAN CAPACITY BUILDING FOUNDATION, (ACBF) ON MONDAY 10TH JULY 2017.

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE AND CHAIRMAN OF THE GOVERNING COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR LEGISLATIVE STUDIES (NILS), HIS EXCELLENCY SENATOR (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, AT THE SIGNING OF PROJECT GRANT AGREEMENT BETWEEN NILS, NATIONAL ASSEMBLY AND AFRICAN CAPACITY BUILDING FOUNDATION, (ACBF) ON MONDAY 10TH JULY 2017.

 

Protocol;

 

1. On behalf of the Governing Council of the National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS), National Assembly, Nigeria, I wish to welcome our esteemed partners from the African Capacity BuildingFoundation to yet another historic signing ceremony of the NILS-CAP II Project Grant Agreement between the National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS), National Assembly and the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF).

 

2. We are today witnessing another noble effort that seeks to strengthen financial oversight functions of parliaments, thereby deepening the democraticprocess in the West African sub-region with the grant to support the implementation of NILS-CAP Phase II.

 

3. Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, you may recall that on the 27th of March, 2014, we witnessed the signing of a grant of US$ 900,000 from the ACBFand a contribution of US$700,000 from the National Assembly to jointly support the implementation of the first phase of the NILS Capacity Building Project (NILS-CAP I).

 

4. The first phase which covered a two year period from 2014 – 2016, was a national project with a sub-regional outlook. As part of its sub-regional outlook, the project focused on Capacity Building for the National Parliaments of the member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the ECOWAS Parliament. The project which targeted legislators and parliamentary staff in the West African sub-region ensured that capacity gaps were bridged to improve governance systems for sustainable development in the sub-region.

 

5. Following a successful implementation of NILS-CAP I from April 2014 to August 2015, and its extensionto January 2017 with a $400,000.00 grant, efforts were made to bring to fruition, the second phase of the project which thankfully, we are launching today.

 

6. I must congratulate the ACBF on its continuous engagement to support capacity building efforts in Nigeria and beyond.

 

7. It is gratifying to note that NILS-CAP II is furthertargeting capacity development in ECOWAS countries and the ECOWAS Parliament to more effectively facilitate the implementation of intra-regional trade among ECOWAS member states and effective financial oversight in the sub region.

 

8. Other important sub-themes for consideration have been identified to include:

i. Regional Trade: Resolution of Challenges Impeding Effective Trade Integration;

ii. Security Challenges in ECOWAS (Terrorism, Maritime Insecurity and Cattle herdsmen – Farmers Conflict on Pastoralism): Legislative Actions for Containment of Small Arms Proliferation and Terrorist Financing;

 

 

 

 

 

 

iii. Agricultural Policies: Enhancing the Value Chain Exports of Agricultural Produce;

iiii. Executive-Legislature Relations on Appropriation;

v. Financial Audit of Public Institutions: Lessons of Experience;

vi. Issues in Public Financial Management particularly relating to Infrastructure Financing;

vii. Compliance with Prudential Guidelines including Basel Core Principles, IFRS and Electronic Payments System Standards; and

viii. Role of Parliament in Monitoring and Evaluation of PIDA Projects.

 

9. As part of the programme, a platform would be created for legislators in the ECOWAS sub-region including Nigeria and other governance actors to discuss these daunting issues and to come up withpractical solutions.

 

10. Let me, therefore, use this opportunity to draw our attention on the emerging challenges on the implementation of regional trade and agricultural policies that should be carefully considered as we move into NIL-CAP II which, if left unaddressed,may tend to hamper the effectiveness of those policies.

 

For instance, our attention in the National Assembly has been drawn to the massive importation of rice into some ECOWAS countries beyond their consumption capacities solely for dumping /smuggling into Nigeria, thereby undermining the huge investment for domestic production.

 

11. Furthermore, we are also aware of the establishment of large pharmaceutical industries in the sub-region with the intention of exporting their outputs to Nigeria thereby, constraining the viability of localindustries.

 

12. I, therefore, urge all stakeholders during the consideration of the NILS-CAP II to thoroughly and carefully address these anomalies to ensure a healthy and competitive trade policy among ECOWAS countries.

 

13. On oversight, we all know that it is one of the three principal functions of parliaments in representative democracies all over the world. In fact, financial oversight of public finances is critical to ensuring that public resources are used for intended purposes. Over the years, concerted efforts have been made to strengthen good governance and independent oversight of public finance, particularly the budget through support to audit institutions including the parliament.

 

14. On our part, the 8th Senate and National Assembly have, for the past two years, worked on freeing our markets by enacting laws that improve the ease of doing business, promoting competitiveness of our industries and markets and encouraging the patronage of locally made goods, thereby providing the base for economic growth and development.

 

15. I use this opportunity to reiterate the unflinching support and commitment of the Leadership of the National Assembly and the NILS Governing Council to the efforts of ACBF in facilitating development in Africa.

 

16. I wish all parties to the signing of the agreement fruitful implementation and realization of the objectives of NILS-CAP II.

 

17. Thank you,

 

 

Senator (Dr) Abubakar Bukola Saraki,

President of the Senate

Chairman, NILS Governing Council

SPEECH DELIVERED BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY SENATOR ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI (CON), AT THE 11TH ANNUAL BUSINESS LAW CONFERENCE OF THE NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION- SECTION ON BUSINESS LAW

SPEECH DELIVERED BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY SENATOR ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI (CON), AT THE 11TH ANNUAL BUSINESS LAW CONFERENCE OF THE NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION- SECTION ON BUSINESS LAW

PROTOCOLS

 

1. It is a great pleasure to be in your midst today. I’d like to take a moment to thank the organizers and also express my sincere gratitude for the invitation extended to me to be with you here today to speak on this very vital theme “Law and the Changing Face of Legal Practice”.

 

2. When I was invited by the NBA in 2015, I made the issue of the economy the central theme of my conversation with you. Today, once again, I come back with the same message. I remember calling on the NBA to come join hands with us the legislature into a new partnership to make the Nigerian economy great again. I am glad you heed to the call. Again, this is important because in our view a surviving democracy must be built around citizen’ participation, broad stakeholder engagement, deliberation and transparency.

 

3. The Nigerian Bar Association remains not just a stakeholder but one of the most critical voice of reason within our body polity. This is why we at the Senate have continued to seek out and engage you for advice and consultations on national issues. The role the NBA plays in shaping public perception and the opportunity it offers as a vehicle for promoting good governance have continued to grow. This is why when we opened up consultations and engagement with the private sector and the wider civil society on our legislative agenda which has been anchored on the economy, the NBA was one of our first port of call.

 

4. I remember the promise I made to you then in 2015 shortly after we took office, where I pledged that we will run a much more transparent National Assembly ready to protect our common wealth through effective lawmaking, oversight and representation. I called the NBA to partnership in our lawmaking role. I charged the NBA to come up with ideas on laws that would help us reform the economy and deepen our democracy. today, in partial fulfilment of that promise and the desire to deepen the democratic ethos of the National Assembly the 8th National Assembly is breaking down barriers to engagement and public scrutiny.

 

5. We have as a matter of deliberate policy put the daily plenary on the worldwide web for all to see and gain first-hand knowledge about the inner workings of the Assembly. We have for the first time in the history of the National Assembly uploaded our line by line budget to the public, subjecting our finances to greater openness. As part of this Open Nass initiative, the 8th National Assembly is today the first National Assembly to hold a joint public hearing on the budget as part of the budget approval process. Also, we are the first Assembly to deliberate and consider the full detail of the budget on the floor before passage. We are without a doubt the most civil society engaging National Assembly in the history of the consideration and approval of the federal budget. All of these we have embarked on to further strengthen and encourage the continuous interaction and mobilisation of our people towards building a more virile people’s parliament.

 

6. We have continued to expand and push the bar of engagement ever farther. Today, the NBA-SBL and other private sector groups and the civil society are participating in the law-making process as we work through our economic priority bills by providing and engaging with relevant committees on technical advisory and support. This is another area where we have found very robust engagement and involvement with our private citizens. Aside the added advantage of enhancing the quality of the bills we pass, I am a firm believer that the laws coming out of the parliament must be owned by the people for it to have the value to change lives. Because law is a tool for social and economic re-engineering. Let me therefore use this opportunity to thank all of you in the NBA-SBL and the wider civil society that have so far participated in this process and offered us their expertise. The National Assembly is grateful for all your effort at ensuring that we build a new Nigerian economy. I hope that our timeous passage of the bills you have been involved with has encouraged you that we mean business and we are dedicated for more. For those who have not keyed into this lofty initiative, we extend our invitation.

 

7. The National Assembly is leading a new role to use legislative intervention as a mechanism for achieving economic reform. While the National Assembly has pursued economic reforms in the past, much of it had not been anchored on a solid legislative reform of the obsolete laws that guide economic exchanges. This has been the missing gap to sustaining meaningfully the economic policies of the past including the vision 2010, 20- 2020.

 

8. The current 8th National Assembly has placed premium on creating the right legal framework for empowering entrepreneurialdevelopment, building investor confidence on our economy and renewing our infrastructure base across board. On infrastructure alone, experts, including the minister of Budget and Planning that Nigeria will need about $3.05 trillion in the next 30 years in order to implement the National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan, NIIMP. With the state of the revenue basket, it is clear that unless we are able to expand the financing base to incorporate other sources of funding and mobilisation we may not be able to meet our infrastructure target and reduce our deficit. Otherwise, health, education, water sanitation, security and other essential public services will continue to suffer.

 

9. This is why today, we have a framework for collaboration with the private sector, the civil society and the development partners where we can share ideas, engage and consult with one another towards innovative ideas that could help us expand the financing model for our infrastructure development and financing. I am here to say that I am proud that the NBA is a major player in this framework and that we are makingtremendous progress so far.

 

10. The state of the Nigerian Economy as we met it is worrisome. With an estimated $900b infrastructure deficit, crude oil price falling down to $50-40 from a high of over $140. With a production level still hovering around 2m barrels and a Niger Delta region that remained fragile we had an economic scenario that was challenging. This is further exacerbated by the fact that in the mist of all of these, we had a none oil revenue base of less than 5% and oil was still accounting for over 40% of the federal revenue base. It is within this scenario that we are to create more jobs and stop people losing their jobs.

 

11. When we came on board we were confronted with the daunting task of creating jobs in an economy with over 13% unemployment. This administration was immediately faced with closing the infrastructure deficit gap of over $350b in an era of sharply dwindling revenue and high rate of divestment. We were confronted also with the need to stop restiveness, secure our peoples welfare, provide more opportunity for our youths on the street and raise their standard of living. This we had to do within the context of the shrinking economy struggling to meet with its recurrent obligations that we inherited. The only option was for government to keep borrowing which is unsustainable with very high negative repercussions on upcoming generations. As a forward-thinking legislature, we knew that we had to do something to ameliorate the challenge.

 

12. It was on this background that the Senate then decided to frame for herself a legislative agenda with the overarchingobjective to use legal reform as an enabler for modernizing the Nigerian economy for greater competitiveness and attractiveness for investment. Today, working together with the NESG, NBA and the ENABLE DFID Program and other partners under NASSBER. I am happy to report that theNational Assembly is making steady progress towards a methodically legal reformation of the obsolete market laws we have. This is already signalling to the world that Nigeria is ready for business and global competition. Our policy drive is simple; to create jobs and enable SMEs for growth. The focus has significantly been on infrastructure mobilisation, access to capital and credit and the reduction in the cost of doing business to encourage investment.

 

13. By the end of the second session of the 8thAssembly, we have successfully passed the following bills aimed at creating a modern Nigerian business environment including;The Electronic Transaction bill 2015, Bankruptcy and Insolvency bill 2015, the Credit Reporting Bill, The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission Bill, the Independent Warehouse Regulatory Agency Bill and the Secure Transactions in Movable Assets Bill. The Companies and Allied Matters (Act) (CAMA) (Amendment) Bill and the Investment and Securities Act (ISA) (Amendment) Bill are today undergoing committee consideration. It is expected that with the passage of these bills together with others we will have a new Nigeria business regulatory environment that is pro innovation and business growth.

 

14. On infrastructure, we have put together 6 important infrastructure reform bills to help revamp our infrastructure. These include The Nigerian Railway Bill, The Nigerian Ports & Harbour Bill, The National Road Funds Bill, the National Transport Commission Bill, the National Inland Waterways Bill and the Federal Roads Bill. These laws draw from the experiences of other countries with similar demographics with Nigeria. Leaning heavily on enabling the participation of the private sector in the construction and maintenance of roads, railways and ports as well as their operations. The net effect will be more investment in the country, reduced pressure on the forex market and public funds will be channeled towards more governance oriented public services.

 

15. To put into context the economic implication of what we have done, two of our laws have been identified by World Bank to move Nigeria 40 points ahead in its indicators on ease of doing business, the Credit Bureau Systems Bill and the Secured Transactions in Movable Assets Bill. In addition to reducing the cost of doing business, these two bills and the Warehouse Receipts bill will create new capital mobilisation scheme for SMEs while also reducing the potential for non-performing loans.

 

16. Ladies and gentlemen, the Nigerian citizen is remarked worldwide for his industry. we have seen many advancement that Nigerians across the globe are achieving both in the field of innovation and technology and also in the most difficult areas of human endeavour. We therefore see no reason that the Nigerian petroleum industry is yet become a player in the global oil industry. But the reason is simple, the law on which the industry relies, is no longer an enabler of for efficiency, innovation and development. It has rather become very obsolete and incapable of solving the current problems facing the industry.

 

17. Today, after 17 years of trying the Senate has passed the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill the first of the two tranches of bills to reform the petroleum industry for competitiveness and efficiency. The implication of this bill is that will see a total reformation of the NNPC and the creation of a new and efficient Nigerian Oil Company. The derivable efficiency will stop in its track the level of corruption being associated with the NNPC today, it will free up more monies for governance and development that would impact positively on the people and give us a chance to play in the global oil market like other oil producing countries with their national oil companies.

 

18. One other major legislative intervention that the 8th Senate has pursued to date has been the review of the Public Procurement Act. The reason for this amendment is simple. We cannot be seeking the development of the economy without taken very positive policy action on the issue of patronizing those who have invested in our dear country. The Senate has made this a major plank of its legislative policy. The intended amendment is intended to compelgovernment to patronize made in Nigeria goods, especially where these are very simple with adequate local capacity.

 

19. The goal here is to ensure that a substantial percentage of the N2.5 trillion set aside for capital expenditure in the budget is retained in the local economy and put in the pockets of our people. That is one of the ways to achieve wealth creation, create jobs, increase the GDP, encourage local industries to grow and stimulate increased productivity among our people. It is also our creative way of creating mass employment. We are drawing inspiration from other developed economies that had done the same thing. US did the same thing around 1922 with the Buy America policy promoted by the Herbert Hoover administration. China, South Africa and other countries also have similar laws.

 

20. In agriculture, we have target access to finance and policy stability as the key intervention areas. Here, the National Assembly has passed the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme (Act) (Amendment) Bill 2016. The objective being to increase the band of the scheme and reduce bureaucratic bottlenecks hindering access to agriculture financing. We are at the moment working on a bill to ensure policy stability in this critical area of our economy. If there is anything we have learnt over the years about investment in the agriculture sector, it is that policy somersaults have made investment unattractive in this potentially rich sector of our economy. We are also pursuing monetary policy interventions with the CBN to reduce the cost of foreign exchange. We have just recently also met on the issue of the interest rate regime- a very sensitive and complex area but for which we think we must again creatively and deliberately look at to further bring down the cost of doing business in Nigeria.

 

21. On power, we are working closely with the Executive and key stakeholders to revitalize the power sector. The intervention here is multi-pronged at the policy levels and on the legislative side, we are working to empower mini-grids. I see light already at the end of the tunnel.

 

22. We have in the last month passed a new Customs & Excise Bill. The implication of this law for those familiar with the sector is huge. We believe that the law will bring significant stability, certainty, public participation and reduce too much discretionin the management of tariffs on goods. This is one highlight out of many that will affect doing business in Nigeria positively in the new custom regime that would follow when this bill is signed into law.

 

23. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, these are all watershed legislative interventions in their own right and represents what is possible when we work together dedicated to one vision. The cost implications are huge for doing business in Nigeria as you can now in the comfort of your couches and bedrooms get into and complete contracts both public and private electronically saving transport fairs, time spent, cost of papers and printing and storage by simply going electronic without fear over legitimacy and effectiveness. Our farmers and other small businesses, will now be able to use their warehouse receipts to get loans and advances and owning a land will no longer be the only means of securing credit.

 

24. Our Vision going forward is that with the capital outlay and regulation it is expected that Nigeria will create 7.5 million jobs in the next 5 years owing solely to their infrastructure reforms.

 

25. To ensure a sound economy, our legal regime must be equally sound and provide an assuring platform for investors, entrepreneurs and businesses.

 

26. Gentlemen of the Bar, it is upon you who work with these legal instruments and on whom the business community and the courts will rely on providing the right advisory that will see to the realisation of the full potential of these laws when signed into law. As you deliberate on your conference theme, it will be good to see the NBA develop new legal culture that will help promote these new laws for effectiveness. We will like to see new tools for better commercial contract development and enforcement, conflict management, private property protection and judicial protection and security of enterprise.

 

27. This is why our next steps in this ongoing reform will focus on investment securities and the enhancement of rights. Here, we will be working to modernise our intellectual property regime including copyrights, patents and designs and other systems that will help us ensure the safety of investors innovation, unique works and ensure that sharing and distribution of Nollywood movies and our people’s music products are done within the law and in such manner that enables them derive the benefits of their ingenuity. May I once again, urge the NBA-SBL to actively engage with us as we work through these issues to provide cutting edge and comprehensive legislative review on these issues and many more as we enter into the 3rd session of the 8th National Assembly.

 

28. On the issue of corruption, while we have continued to pursue this issue using our oversight scheme, and for which there has been remarkable success, we however, think that unless we innovate and apply smart technology we will not go too far. The 8thSenate is expanding its anti-corruption policy by empowering its committee to now receive corruption petitions. The National Assembly is also taken another look at the issue of expansive discretionary powers under our laws that may be contributing to make corruption fester. We would therefore want you to ponder on this and work with us to use law amendments and new legislative proposals to narrow corruption opportunities to the barest minimum.

 

29. Corruption is one area of our national life we cannot afford to play politics with. on the prosecution of cases, it is clear that there is a whole lot of more work to be done to ensurewe succeed against corruption. The trend today with the cases we have seen play outindicates that a lot more work needs to be done to guarantee better outcomes. From the prosecution culture to capacity there is a need for thorough investigations to take precedence over media sensations. There may be need for better trainings and strategy building. Let me once again charge you as lawyers to help come up with your ideas on what legislative path we can take to help us close the gap.

 

30. I will not end this speech without referencing once again the critical role the NBA played in the outcome of the 2015 General Election and the need to ensure that we continue to improve upon what we have already achieved. It is for this reason, that the Senate recently passed the Electoral Act 2010 Amendment Bill to further empower INEC as a neutral umpire and through technological adaptation reduce the corrupting human interface in the process to the barest minimum. It is our hope that this bill will soon be signed into law once it achieves concurrence in the House of Representatives.

 

31. It is our hope that since we have adopted these level of direct engagement with you, which has borne so much fruit so far, I hopethen that our close and constructive relationship will continue to blossom and we will continue to gain from your insight and your observance of the spirit of these laws in the course of your legal work for the overall benefit of growing the Nigerian economy into a well-rounded and modern economy able to meet with the expectations and aspirations of the Nigeria of the 21st Century.

 

32. Let me therefore congratulate all lawyers and renew my call for us work even more closer to bring about an even better future for Nigeria.

 

I wish you successful conference.

God Bless Nigeria.

Thank you.

 

REMARK BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY, SENATOR (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, AT THE STAKEHOLDERS ROUNDTABLE TO ADDRESS INCREASING INTEREST RATES IN NIGERIA.

REMARK BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY, SENATOR (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, AT THE STAKEHOLDERS ROUNDTABLE TO ADDRESS INCREASING INTEREST RATES IN NIGERIA. TODAY TUESDAY THE 13TH JUNE 2017, 2PM AT THE SENATE CONFERENCE RM 022, SENATE NEW BUILDING.

 

Protocol:

 

1. It is a pleasure to be here with you today to discuss this very important national issue – our rising interest rate regime.

 

2. I am especially gladdened by the fact that you found time out of your busy schedule to answer to our call. Your being here today is heart-warming. It shows that you are bothered as we are about this issue and are willing to work with us to find solutions to it. It is also an indication that you share with us the vision of a more sustainable interest rate regime that enables our people to do business, create wealth and be empowered to follow their dreams. Thank you for coming.

 

3. It is no longer news that the 8th National Assembly has made the issue of the economy its number one legislative priority. Our decision is anchored on our belief that unless we expand opportunity for our people to create wealth and improve their livelihood we will continue to have significant challenge maintaining the peace and securing our union.

 

4. There is so much the 8th National Assembly is currently doing in this light. We are creating a new overarching framework for our infrastructure market by expanding the opportunity for private sector in the market. We are expanding access to finance and we are working on reviewing our market rules to meet international best practices. We are doing all of these through some of the bills we are passing into law. From the Nigerian Railway Bill, the Public Procurement Act AmendmentBill, the Nigerian Ports & Harbour Bill, the National Road Funds Bill, the National Transport Commission Bill, the National Inland Waterways Bill and the Federal Roads Bill, the Competition and Consumer Protection Bill, the Investment & Securities Act Amendment, the Companies and Allied Matters Act Amendment, the Secure Transactions in Movable Assets Bill, the Independent Warehouse Regulatory Bill, the Bankruptcy & Insolvency Act (Repeal & re-enactment) Bill, the Electronic Transactions Bill and the Nigerian Postal Commission Bill.

 

5. All these legislative actions we are taking is rooted in our believe that if we are to attract more investments, add more jobs in the market, promote business development and widen the range of possibilities and opportunities for our teeming youthful population, a demographic advantage we are yet to fully explore, we must create the right legal regulatory and institutional frameworks that is enabling in a free market.

 

6. As much as our people value and commend us for these new initiatives for growth, they are also worried and have complained to us bitterly about the impossible interest rate regime our businesses face today to survive. It is inconceivable that businesses anywhere can survive on a 25-30% interest rate regime. How can an investor anywhere survive on these rates? How can they create jobs and make returns? But this is the situation our businesses currently live with.

 

7. The Senate fully appreciates the economic complexities that determine interest rate regimes. It fully recognizes that high inflation times call for interest rate hikes and such other arguments. But unless businesses are able to survive, inflation and all other market conditions alone will not make the difference. We must as a matter of deliberate policy frame our monetary policy regime towards support for businesses otherwise our economy rescue mission may not be attained. It will be profoundly improbable to genuine businesses like agriculture, production and solid minerals to survive on interest rate regime of 30%.

 

8. A 25-30% interest rate regime is a yoke too hard to bearfor any real sector business. Our businesses need a breather. I am a firm believer that unless we are ready to think outside of the box and task ourselves to make sacrifices and take hard decisions with a view to the future we will not make much progress.

 

9. Let’s give a chance to our poultry and cassava farmers, welders, builders, our fashion designers, filmmakers, shoemakers, furniture companies and our other numerous small and medium sized industries a chance to stay alive and make a living for their families. These people; the SME’s are the reason we are gathered here. These entrepreneurs employ 88% of our work force. They have demanded and we should find a means to give them a new interest rate. If we don’t, we will all be poorer for it. If we are able to, we will all ultimately benefit.

 

10. I am confident that with the caliber of people gathered here, we will find a workable solution that will put a halt on the current rising interest rates regime and return profitability viability to Nigerian enterprises. This will be the beginning of a new era of prosperity and inclusive growth that we all yearn for. This is our only option if we are to build a virile private sector that will meet our developmental needs.

 

11. This is not a time for excuses but a time for solutions. Let’s make this happen.

 

12. God bless Nigeria.

 

PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE 

OPENING REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE HIS EXCELLENCY, SEN. DR. ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, ON THE OCCASION OF A ONE DAY PUBLIC HEARING ORGANISED BY THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY , HUMAN RIGHTS AND LEGAL MATTERS

OPENING REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE HIS EXCELLENCY, SEN. DR. ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, ON THE OCCASION OF A ONE DAY PUBLIC HEARING ORGANISED BY THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY , HUMAN RIGHTS AND LEGAL MATTERS ON FOUR BILLS ON MONDAY 12TH JUNE 2017.

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It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to this public hearing organized by the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters.

Today’s Public Hearing is significant for certain reasons one of which is that it heralds the beginning of the third session of the 8th Senate and secondly there are four completely different Bills from four different sponsors with its benefits and peculiarities to Nigerians of various social strata. The Bills are

I. National Commission for Peace, Reconciliation(Establishment etc) Bill, 2017 (SB 74) by Sen. Shehu Sani;

II. Revised Laws of the Federation Bill, 2017 (SB. 391) by Sen. David Umaru;

III. Emergency Powers Act, 1966 Bill, (SB 182) by Sen. Sen. John Owan Enoh;

 

IIII. Arbitration and Conciliation Act Cap. A18 LFN 2004 (Amendment) Bill, 2017) (SB. 427) by Sen MonsuratOlajumoke Sunmonu.

 

The National Commission for Peace and Reconciliation Establishment Bill as proposed by the sponsor which seeks to establish an administrative mechanism for creating bonds, unity and reconciliation will go a long way in dousing pockets of tension and violence in different parts of the country as well as stemming the tide of disenchantment and secession against the Nigerian State.

 

Distinguished Senators and invited Stakeholders, the onus lies on us all to admit whether or not the establishment of a commission of this sort with accordant powers to grant amnesties for serious violations of Human rights rather than adopting punitive measures is the best way to ensure a peaceful coexistence among various ethnic groups and individuals living in Nigeria.

 

The second Bill for consideration is Revised Laws of the Federation Bill 2017 seeking to address major short falls associated with the review and codification of the Laws of the Federation. The primary purpose of this Bill is to provide a legal framework for the periodic review, codification and publication of Acts of the National Assembly and other subsidiary legislations of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in order to prevent the duplication of laws and ensure ease of reference by members of the general public.

 

As a matter of fact, the absence of a timeframe for the conduct of the codification of our laws and the prevailing practice whereby the National Assembly is required at all times to pass a law to approve every compilation is uncoordinated and makes it very difficult for lawyers and constitutional researchers to keep tabs with the existing laws in operation. I sincerely hope that this platform provides us the opportunity to ensure we put a template that will guide the revision of the Laws of the Federation periodically.

 

The third Bill for consideration is the Emergency Powers Bill. The Emergency Powers Bill 2017 seeks to repeal the 1961 Act and provide for a legal framework for the declaration of a state of emergency in Nigeria. A state of emergency could result from insurgency, arson, civil unrest and unmanageable natural disasters in any part of Nigeria.

The Emergency powers Act No. 1 of 1961 which came into operation on the 30th of March 1961 has been utilized for the purpose of maintaining and securing, order and good government during the period of emergency in the country. The Act actually predates the 1963 Republican Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and it is not contained in the 1990 compilation of the Laws of the Federation of Nigeria and the current compilation of the 2004 laws of the Federation of Nigeria.

 

It must be clearly stated today that this Bill has nothing to do with removal of State Governors and appointment of Sole Administrators during a State of Emergency. Under the present constitutional arrangement as contained in section 188 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, an elected State Governor can only be removed or cease to hold office by impeachment, resignation, permanent incapacitation, death and by expiration of tenure. Any attempt to remove an elected State Governor under the guise of “declaration of state of emergency” will be undemocratic and unconstitutional.

 

Lastly, we will deliberate on a Bill seeking an amendment to the Arbitration and Conciliation Act 2004. Currently, Arbitration has become the modern way of dispute resolution and it is important we tweak our own law to update our statutes in order not to be left behind by the international community. This Bill seeks to achieve this by making “interim awards” made by Arbitral panels immediately binding on parties as opposed to having to go through the court process for enforcement in the middle of arbitration thereby delaying the process of adjudication.

 

With increased potential for disputes arising from increased foreign and local investments in Nigeria, it is very important we make our litigation process less cumbersome and guarantee the swiftness of getting dispute resolution through arbitration and conciliation. I must commend the sponsors of these four Bills in the persons of Sen. Shehu Sani, Sen. David Umaru, Sen. John Owan Enoh and Sen. Monsurat Sunmonu for their passion towards these Bills. I also thank the Chairman, members and staff of the Senate Committee on Judiciary for their dedication and commitment in ensuring that this Public Hearing holds today. Taking into cognizance the divergent views expressed by Senators and the reactions the Bills elicited from members of the public, the Committee resolved to invite the public and concerned stakeholders, to give them the opportunity to make further inputs on the provisions of the proposed legislations.

Distinguished Senators and invited guests, ladies and gentlemen, I want to once again thank you for coming and wish you all a very fruitful deliberation.

God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!

 

PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE.

REMARKS BY H.E. (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, AT THE 2ND YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF THE 8TH SENATE TODAY JUNE 9TH 2017.

REMARKS BY H.E. (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, AT THE 2ND YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF THE 8TH SENATE TODAY JUNE 9TH 2017.

 

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1. Distinguished colleagues, our invited guests, ladies and gentlemen, I am immensely pleased to welcome you to this special session on the second anniversary of the 8th Senate. Let me begin by thanking all of you my wonderful colleagues for the exemplary and unflinching support you have given to me and the entire leadership of the Senate thus far. Every one of you deserve to be singled out and acknowledged individually for your remarkable commitment and oneness of spirit. I thank you most especially for the sacrifices and your perseverance that has seen the Senate succeed thus far.

 

2. I cannot fail to mention in particular the support and partnership I have enjoyed with our ever-amiable and dependable DSP H.E Ike Ekweremadu(the Ikeoha ndigbo), our Senate Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan for his immeasurable industry and broadmindedness, our minority leader, H.E Senator, Godswill Akpabio and the entire leadership of the Senate. Thank you all for the bipartisanship, vision, patriotism, fraternity and solidarity.

 

3. Distinguished Colleagues, our invited guests, today is an historical day for many reasons. First of all, today marks a celebration of our deliberative democracy and the immense opportunity to be part of an enduring legacy of political tolerance, engagement, participation and commitment. We are two year on this saddle and it has been two years of productive lawmaking period.

 

4. While acknowledging the great work our predecessors had done before us, let me put on record that this current Senate has made progress on every front and therefore deserve to mark this day as a special day.

 

5. When we started, I knew that the 8th Senate was going to be significantly different and effective. I saw across the aisle, a passionate, energetic and a set of leaders made of sterner stuff, and a desire to make the difference. Though we inherited a legacy that created in some minds cynicism and despondency, we were undeterred irrespective of an unending barrage of virulent attacks and unprovoked aggression, the 8th Senate matched on, together erasing records and setting new ones. Today, the 8th Senate haspassed 96 bills and 72 petitions in just 2years eclipsing the highest ever in the history of the National Assembly, a record held by the 5th Senate after passing about 65 bills and 6 petitions respectively within the same time period.

 

6. The 8th Senate has led with courage and taken up more hot-button- national and legislative issues and successfully dealt with them. We committed ourselves to greater openness and accountability and many doubted our capacity to do as we preach. But we have led from the frontline on the war against corruption, having passed several corruption-exposing resolutions that have saved our government billions of naira cumulatively. Today, in keeping with our pledge, the National Assembly has opened its line-by-line Itemed budget to the world (a first in the history of the National Assembly).

 

7. I sincerely congratulate every one of you for putting in the shift to ensure we realized these milestones. Indeed, there have been many more. We have taken on the toughest bills and challenges affecting our unity, the welfare and security of our people and the necessary platform for a greater Nigerian economy. From the Nigerian Railway Bill, the Public Procurement Act Amendment, the Nigerian Ports & Harbour Bill, the National Road Funds Bill, the National Transport Commission Bill, the National Inland Waterways Bill and the Federal Roads Bill, the Competition and Consumer Protection Bill, the Investment & Securities Act Amendment, the Companies and Allied Matters Act Amendment, the Secure Transactions in Movable Assets Bill, the Independent Warehouse Regulatory Bill, the Bankruptcy & Insolvency Act (Repeal & RE-enactment) Bill, the Electronic Transactions Bill and the Nigerian Postal Commission Bill all of these and many more have been the highest compendium of economic reforms ever undertaken by any administration in the history of our country. But we are taking it and one by one we are laying the foundation for a new Nigerian economy to emerge. One that is empowering the private sector and liberal.

 

8. Distinguished colleagues, our invited guests, today, the 8th Senate is laying markers and engraving its legacy in time by championing several first and providing the legislature with audacity. On the issue of opening the lawmaking process we have not been afraid to push the boundaries of convention, that is why the 8th Senate can be credited to initiated the first-ever National Assembly Joint Public Hearing on the Budget; the 8th Senate broke the 12year jinx on the PIB by passing the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) that will reform the NNPC and return accountability in the petroleum industry. The 8th Senate scored another first as it become the first Senate to unveil and pursue a self-developed economic reform agenda to aid the ease of doing business in Nigeria and create new frameworks for creating jobs and improving Nigeria’ ranking in the global competitiveness index.

 

9. On choice of bills to pass and be focused on, we have for the first time after many decades of trying passed bills that will see us reform the big elephant in the room (the NNPC), also, the Nigerian railway corporation, FERMA, the maritime regulatory institutions, including the Corporate Affairs Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission are other critical general market regulatory structures that we have undertaken and are working very hard to pass into law through a well-orchestrated and comprehensive legislative policy framework. This would enable theNigerian market join the league of nations and compete favourably as a destination for foreign direct investment and for ease of doing business.

 

10. All of these we have done because we know and we believe that in order to create millions of employments quickly, give more opportunities to our people as well as get the full potential of our diversification of the economy policy on the one hand and close the gap on our infrastructure deficit we needed to get rid of our old and obsolete laws and enact new laws that have the right modern and intellectual mix.

 

11. My Distinguished colleagues, I want to thank you again, for the great lawmaking environment that is empowering and genuinely fraternal and less divisive. This has enabled us focus a lot more on the work than on politics ensuring that our people are the ultimate beneficiaries of our time and energy. Today, we can be rest assured that though it may take a while to gestate, the initiatives we have started here will endure and bloom; from the made-in-Nigeria initiative, to infrastructure renewal framework to the access to finance initiative, all of these will come together to lay the new foundation on which the Nigerian economy for the better part of the 21stcentury will be built.

 

12. My distinguished colleagues and friends, we have come a long way. I remember asking you to make sacrifices and more sacrifices. You answered my call emphatically and through hard work and commitmentwe have come this far, together. And I say thank you.

 

13. Though, it has been a rough journey you have remained undaunted. Together, we have walked through the turbulence and in the last two years shown that with determination and courage of conviction we can get the job done. I am here to tell you that your sacrifices have not been in vain. Your steadfastness has paid dividend and if we keep at it, we will be delivering very soon to the Nigerian people a holistic legislative reform package that would see us enter a new era of prosperity built upon a solid legal foundation that would transform our economy, deepen our democracy, close our infrastructure deficit, grow and add millions of newjobs and help activate enterprise and reward innovation.

 

14. I would like to end this address by appealing to every Nigerian citizen to be patient with the current administration of President Buhari. This government is sincerely disposed to turning things around but in a much more enduring manner. Let us pray to God to grant our President full recovery and give him the fortitude to continue to pilot the affair of state in the vision he has started with. as for us in the Senate we are firmly and fully committed to his leadership and will continue to do all in our power to support and give him all the encouragement to lead us into a strong united and more virile nation.

 

15. I must also use this opportunity to thank our Acting President, Prof. Oluyemi Osinbajo, for his providing leadership and character and leading with conviction. Together with the executive this Senate is committed to continue to support our government and the Nigerian people all the way. We will not relent in our commitment to the enthronement of a strong and resilient Nigerian economy capable of ensuring the welfare and protection of every Nigerian irrespective of his ethnic group, political affiliation, sex or religious creed.

 

16. We must eschew bigotry, tribalism and see each other as one and together build a new Nigeria of our dreams.

 

17. May God bless Nigeria.

 

Thank you.

SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, CON, PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, AT THE LAUNCHING OF THE BOOK, ‘ANTIDOTES FOR CORRUPTION’ BY SENATOR DINO MELAYE

SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, CON, PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, AT THE LAUNCHING OF THE BOOK, ‘ANTIDOTES FOR CORRUPTION’ BY SENATOR DINO MELAYE, AT THE SHEHU YAR’ADUA CENTRE, ABUJA, MAY 14, 2017. 

 

A couple of years ago, I read an interesting article in The Economist that tried to argue that there is direct correlations between corruption and development. I thought this was pretty obvious. What set me thinking more about the subject however was the graphics. The writer tried to show that countries with Higher Development Index, measured in health, wealth and education, also ranked higher in the Corruption Perception Index and conversely, countries that have the worst human development indices also performed worst in corruption perception ranking.

In other words, the richer countries are also the less corrupt; while poorer countries tend to be more corrupt. What got me thinking was the chicken and egg puzzle that that statement immediately raises. Do countries become more corrupt because the people are poor or are the people poor because their country is corrupt? We may never be able to answer this question to everybody’s satisfaction.

However, what the article made clear is the direct correlation between corruption and development. If the purpose of government is to improve the quality of lives of its people, then any conversation about corruption must focus primarily on how it affects human development, whether it is health, wealth or education.

I admit it is early days yet, but one area I believe we have made remarkable progress in the past two years of the Buhari led administration is that corruption has been forced back to the top of our national political agenda. Every single day, you read the newspapers, you listen to the radio, you go on the internet, you watch the television, the people are talking about it. The people are demanding more openness, more accountability and more convictions. Those of us in government are also responding, joining the conversation and accepting that the basis of our legitimacy as government is our manifest accountability to the people. We acknowledge that if we want Nigerians to trust their government again, then government at all levels must demonstrate that we are not in office for the pursuit of private gains, but to make our people happier by helping them to meet their legitimate aspirations and achieve a higher quality of life.

What all these mean is that despite all that we have experienced over the years, Nigeria and Nigerians have not accepted corruption as normal; that we recognize it as a problem; that we are determined to make a break with our past and live by different rules. And, to borrow from the title of the book that we are launching today, that we are determined to find antidotes for this disease that has almost rendered our country prostrate.

And talking about antidotes, I am convinced that we must return to that very basic medical axiom that prevention is better than cure. Perhaps, the reason our fight against corruption has met with rather limited success is that we appeared to have favoured punishment over deterrence. The problem with that approach however, is that the justice system in any democracy is primarily inclined to protect the fundamental rights of citizens. Therefore, it continues to presume every accused as innocent until proven guilty. Most often, it is difficult to establish guilt beyond all reasonable doubts as required by our laws. It requires months, if not years of painstaking investigations. It requires highly experienced and technically sound investigation and forensic officers. It requires anti-corruption agents and agencies that are truly independent and manifestly insulated from political interference and manipulation. We must admit that we are still far from meeting these standards. Most often therefore, because our anti-corruption agencies are under pressure to justify their existence and show that they are working, they often tend to prefer the show over the substance. However, while the show might provide momentary excitement or even public applause, it does not substitute for painstaking investigation that can guarantee convictions.

I reiterate therefore, that we must review our approaches in favour of building systems that makes it a lot more difficult to carry out corrupt acts or to find a safe haven for corruption proceeds within our borders. In doing this, we must continue to strengthen accountability, significantly limit discretion in public spending, and promote greater openness. We in the National Assembly last week took the first major step in this direction towards greater openness. For the first time in our political history, the budget of the National Assembly changed from a one-line item to a 34-page document that shows details of how we plan to utilize the public funds that we appropriate to ourselves. This is a very significant step forward and we are very proud of it.

In addition to this, we are ensuring that the fight against corruption is taking the center-stage in our legislative activities. At the moment, we are considering for passage into law the following bills:

1. The Whistleblower Protection bill, which I am confident will be passed not later than July 2017.

2. The Proceeds of Crime bill

3. The Special Anti-Corruption Court, which would be done through constitutional amendment and;

4. The Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Bill.

In all these, the National Assembly is driven by the saying that “whoever comes to equity must come with clean hands.” Having demonstrated our commitment to transparency and a more open legislature, we will be operating on a higher moral ground in carrying out our oversight duties as prescribed by the constitution. I believe that the National Assembly, working with the Executive Arms of government can continue to explore creative ways to make corrupt practices difficult and the hiding of corruption proceeds even more difficult still. For instance, if our banking regulations placed the burden on the banks to disclose suspicious lodgment, it will make it more difficult, if not outright impossible for banks to warehouse stolen money. At the moment, there are still too many places to hide in the banks. If must come up with a piece of legislation that imposes heavy fines on banks that fail to report cash deposits that they should have reasonable grounds to suspect. If banks know that they stand to lose more in heavy penalties than they stand to gain by accepting corruption money, we would have shifted the responsibility for due diligence on the banks. By realizing that there would be no place to hide their loot, corrupt officials would naturally be less inclined to steal. In talking about prevention, this is one legislation that would go a long way, as the evidence from most developed countries with similar legislations has shown.

 

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, you would have noticed that each time we talk about corruption, we tend to focus almost exclusively on high profile political corruption. While these tend to be of high impact and high drama, I suspect that they are not even as debilitating as what is often referred to as systemic corruption. Corruption by middle level and junior level government officials who pinch the system and demand gratifications to do their ordinarily routine duties. From experience, this form of corruption ultimately turns out to be as grievous as the high level corruption that readily comes to mind. Again this recommends to us the need to strengthen our system for prevention. We need to simplify our bureaucracy and administrative procedures. Because it is in the complexity and red-tapes that corrupt officials profit. However, I also strongly suspect, while not justifying anything, that majority of these low level corruption are largely powered more by need even more than greed. If I am right in this assessment, then it would seem to me that if we are able to provide much of what the people truly need, we would have gone a long way in minimizing some of these corrupt behaviours.

If we are able to build a quality public education system, especially at the basic and secondary level, which would not require parent to pray through their nose for their children’s education; if we are able to build an efficient public health system that provide insurance covers to ordinary citizens so that when they fall sick, they can access quality healthcare without running from pillar to post looking for money; if we are able to build a system that guarantees food and shelter to everyone; if we are able to do all these, we would have gone a long way in removing much of the driving force for corruption at this level. If we return to The Economist article that I mentioned at the beginning, I suspect quite strongly that most of the OECD countries referenced in the article are less prone to corruption because in addition to all other things, they have also been able to guarantee most of these basic necessities of life for their citizens.

My last point is on the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index. It is important to note that the CPI always generate controversy each year it is released. This is so because, most often governments and countries tend to believe that the year-on-year report does not fully reflect or account for the progress being made in the fight against corruption. I believe the key challenge here is also because ‘perception’ is largely subjective. And it is so easy for perception to degenerate into stereotype. Therefore, while relying on perception, I think it is important for TI and other such organisations to improve on their methodology by developing more robust parameters that reflect the progress that some countries are making in respect to corruption.

I thank you all distinguished ladies and gentlemen and congratulate Senator Dino Melaye for his wonderful efforts on this book.

God bless.  

 

REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, DR. ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, CON, PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, TO THE SENATE PRESS CORPS ON THE OCCASION OF THE ‘WORLD PRESS FREEDOM

REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, DR. ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, CON, PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, TO THE SENATE PRESS CORPS ON THE OCCASION OF THE ‘WORLD PRESS FREEDOM’ DAY 2017 ON WEDNESDAY, MAY  3, 2017

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1. Good afternoon, Gentlemen of the Press.

2. Although we usually interact in various capacities during the course of our respective duties, today, it gives me great pleasure to be here again with all of you at the refurbished Senate Press Centre.

3. As we all know, today is World Press Freedom Day, a day that gives all of us — both members and non-members of the press — an opportunity to reflect and reaffirm our commitment to upholding the rights of the media. This is because, time and time again, as demonstrated throughout history, the power of the pen has been proven to be more potent than the power of the sword.

4. The stories that you tell; the articles that you write; the videos that you edit and release on your various platforms; have the power to shape public perception. The media has helped to enthrone leaders and topple them. The media, especially here in Nigeria, has played a crucial role as a watchdog at various points of our momentous history.

5. However, as it is often said: “With great power, comes great responsibility.” What I mean by this is that just as the executive has a responsibility to enforce our laws; the judiciary a responsibility to interpret these laws; and we in the legislature, have a responsibility to enact these laws; you in the media, especially those of you here in the Senate Press Corp, have a responsibility to tell our stories in an independent, impartial, accountable, and truthful way.

6. The media must evolve beyond carrying ordinary propaganda and sensational news to sell newspapers and increase viewership — to pushing out truthful, verifiable, and pertinent information to the public.

7. All of you here have the power to shape all that happens here. By pushing relevant issues — not stories of who is insulting who; or what ‘Senator A’ said about ‘Senator B’ — you have the opportunity to define the discourse in the public arena, and by so doing, positively define our agenda.

8. The theme of this year’s commemoration of World Press Freedom Day, which is “The Media’s Role in advancing a peaceful, just and inclusive society”, also emphasizes the fact that your stories play a major role in charting the course of our national development. Hence, today, I would like to encourage you all to strive to always attain a certain level of substance in your reporting of our issues.

9. I urge you all to look beyond the propaganda that is being sponsored to put down the Senate and judge us based on facts and figures about our genuine performance. These facts and figures are readily available, therefore, judge us by our actions. You participate indirectly in our daily plenary, committee and oversight sessions. You are a constant feature around here. So, please, let the public know and understand that this Senate is working for them, and it is people-centered.

10. This is why we continue to pass Motion after Motion to call attention to critical national issues. We have passed critical laws that will make positive impact on the standard of living and rate of development in our country. We have investigated key issues that have helped to expose corruption in high government offices. We have equally treated petitions from people who feel oppressed but believe the Senate could help them seek redress and get justice instead of resorting to prolonged litigations. In less than two years, this Senate has already cleared 76 petitions. Whereas, the 6th Senate cleared only six public petitions in four years; and the 7th Senate did 87 petitions in four years.

11. In the Media, we play up the angle of an executive and legislative friction or face-off. Despite this, if you look at the numbers, out of 196 nominees that have been sent, 185 have been cleared. Only 11 have not.

12. Additionally, not many people know that the National Assembly’s Economic Priority Bills are gradually but surely making their way through the Senate. Last month, the report of the long-elusive PIB was submitted on the floor of the Senate — the farthest stage it has been in 17 years. While taken all together, all 13 of our economic reform Bills are poised to reduce poverty in the country by double digits and create upwards of 7 million jobs. These are major milestones that would make the public proud of their representatives. Nigerians want to hear what this institution is doing for them in these times of economic uncertainty. This is where you all come in.

13. In a similar vein, the Senate has been working to create more avenu4es of funding for social development issues in our communities. To this end, since we took office, we have worked to pass critical legislation that will help to free up a significant portion of the hundreds of billions of Naira that go into funding infrastructure so that these funds could be channelled into funding more Healthcare, Education, Poverty Alleviation and Security projects in communities across the country. These Bills include the Federal Roads Authority Bill; the National Roads Funds Bill; the National Transport Commission Bill; and the Nigerian Ports and Harbors Bill that we passed just last week.

15. Hence, on this note, I congratulate you all for all the great work that you have been doing, and enjoin you to take one message out of today: “Push for Substance.”

16.  Thank you for your time.

17. God Bless You. God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, CON.

PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE

FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA

 

SPEECH DELIVERED BY HIS EXCELLENCY SENATOR ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI (CON), PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA AT THE OPENING OF A RETREAT FOR THE MANAGEMENT STAFF OF NATIONAL ASSEMBLY.

SPEECH DELIVERED BY HIS EXCELLENCY SENATOR ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI (CON), PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA AT THE OPENING OF A RETREAT FOR THE MANAGEMENT STAFF OF NATIONAL ASSEMBLY.

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It is with great pleasure that I welcome you all to this year’s National Assembly Management retreat and I thank the organisers for putting together this retreat.

The National Assembly has been established not only as the highest law-making institution but more important, as the enabler of the executive to provide for the welfare and security of our people. At no time in our history has the need for synergy of purpose and drive to embrace and give full effect to this obligation been more acute than now. This present National Assembly is fully committed to this obligation and it is in you that we will rely on to play our role effectively.

The 8th National Assembly has made economic reform the anchor of its legislative activities so far. The role of a virile National Assembly management fully dedicated and adequately tooled for the mission cannot then be over emphasized.  

It is you, this 5000 or there about management staff of National Assembly that are responsible for ensuring that our legislative agenda is fully realised. This you do by helping to turn the legislative decisions we make on the floor into actionable legislative instruments, with tangible impact on our people.

Therefore, in a very special way, I thank you all for your support, dedication and hard work so far. We cannot quantify your immense contribution to this course.

Notwithstanding, there are greater tasks ahead and we need more support to achieve our overarching objectives. We hope then that this retreat will further enable you and prepare you towards greater productivity. This is a chance for colleagues to get to know each other and look with new eyes on the opportunities and challenges that lay ahead for us as a primer of government.

As we all know, this is a critical time for us as a nation. We are going through difficult times, recession, security issues, widespread hunger, unemployment, incessant rises in inflation, dwindling opportunities. The nation looks up to National Assembly for direction and to provide opportunities for our people. It has become quite apparent to us that it is no longer business as usual.

It is against this background, that it is imperative that management is fit for the task ahead of us and lives up to its responsibilities – to deliver coherent, effective, and efficient support as we pursue our vision for the development of the country of the Nigerian economy into one of the most diversified and very inclusive economies in Africa. Our overarching goal is to place the Nigerian economy on the path to sustainable growth, poverty elimination, economic opportunities, deal squarely with corruption and tackle injustices around us. The 8th National Assembly places premium on the efficacy of the National Assembly staff productivity as they remain its best hope of achieving this agenda. But you, the management must also ensure staff commitment and dedication to the task.

As legislators, we acknowledge that the achievements of these agendas are not possible without the co-operation of Management.  In a world of growing challenges and vulnerability, we cannot afford not to stand together. To work in isolation or let personal interests stand in the way of harnessing the many strengths in our structure would be doing dis-service to the people we serve.

Let me be blunt here. Unless we are not being honest to ourselves, the Nigerians are not happy with the way the National Assembly have carried on so far and are right to deserve better from this very important institution. Unless we change the work, ethic and inculcate greater transparency in both accountability and output we will not earn their respect. We cannot carry on in any other way and expect that we will be able to deliver better oversight of others.

It is time to show that National Assembly is ready to play its role as a primer of development and the watchdog for the sustenance of democracy. We cannot be seen in the same light as in past times. We need to sanitize our structure and lead by example. Management accountability and transparency is now paramount. Indiscipline and laxity can no longer be tolerated. Obedience to laws in force as it relates to anti-corruption most especially enforced.

Finally, I have just one task for this retreat which is also a plea. The task I place before you is to come up with solutions for improving National Assembly. There is no doubt that we need to take the work ethos far higher than we have today. We need your innovative ideas that will ultimately attract the best brains work and be retained here. I look forward to receiving solid and actionable recommendations. I count on you to bring your bright ideas to discussions so that we can make a difference for our families, communities and our country as a whole.

We have a task to work to build a new National Assembly that is respected at home and recognised abroad both as an example for efficiency, productivity and transparency. This is the minimum we aspire. We are not going to allow anyone detract from this bare aspiration and we will be demanding that you stay on this course for the remainder of our term. With dedication and discipline, this new structure is not so far from our reach. Let’s redouble our effort and I have no doubt that we will succeed.

Let me take it that the line has been drawn and the past is gone. That means from henceforth it can never be business as usual. We must therefore come up with the requisite resolve that we are tuned in to the change agenda and are ready to deliver a major shift in both work attitude, accountability and public relations. Anyone who is not ready to turn the page should ensure to let us know so we can make alternative arrangement because we have no other choice but to ensure that a new National Assembly is delivered to our people who have asked for change.

I wish you the very best for a productive retreat, and I look forward to hearing the results and seeing a new, better, strong and dynamic team with the passionate drive to deliver on our goals. I am proud to work closely with you in promoting and defending our shared values.

Thank you and God bless us all.

(DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI

PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA