SPEECH DELIVERED BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE HIS EXCELLENCY (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, CON, AT THE SENATE ROUNDTABLE ON THE DRUG USE CRISIS IN NIGERIA.

SPEECH DELIVERED BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, CON, AT THE SENATE ROUNDTABLE ON THE DRUG USE CRISIS IN NIGERIA, HELD AT BRISTOL PALACE HOTEL, KANO -DECEMBER 18, 2017

PROTOCOL.

1. A warm welcome to my Distinguished Colleagues, dignitaries, our international partners, speakers, invited guests and indeed all who have joined us at this Senate Roundtable on the Drug Use Crisis in Nigeria. We are here to wake the nation to the insidious threat of drug abuse, which has, for too long, been the unacknowledged enemy within for us as Nigerians. The time has come to look that enemy in the face and say – Enough. And by your standing up to be counted at this Roundtable, it is clear that you share the sense of alarm over this issue and recognise the urgent need to do something about it.

2. Of late, my distinguished colleagues and I in the 8th Senate have become increasingly alarmed at the drug abuse epidemic sweeping through Nigerian communities, posing an existential threat to the very fabric of society. The scourge has been of a particularly virulent nature, touching all social strata and afflicting families and young lives. Women and girls are particularly susceptible, married or not. Not even nursing mothers are spared; and future generations are already endangered by the spectre of drug abuse, even while unborn.

3. The Senate decided to take steps to tackle the malaise. And, subsequent to a motion sponsored by Distinguished Senator Baba Garbai and supported by 40 senators calling for decisive action on the issue, the Senate passed a Resolution on the Need to Check the Rising Menace of Pharmaceutical Drug Abuse in the country.

4. We set up two Senate committees to determine the nature of the problem; and their work is ongoing. This Roundtable is an additional avenue to take the issue to communities across Nigeria, of which Kano is the first of many that we are planning. This is really a moment of reckoning for our country, and it is important that we look unflinchingly at the problem and tell ourselves the truth. It is for that purpose that we are have organised this Two-Day Roundtable; and it is my hope that all participants will make good use of this opportunity, so that we can begin to reverse the grave trend of drug use in our country.

5. The goal of this Roundtable is to open a discussion involving: key policy makers, the legislature, enforcement and regulatory agencies, community leaders, civil society organisations, professional groups, care givers as well as victims – people who are involved on a daily basis in dealing with the challenge.

6. Clearly, something is seriously wrong in our society if so many people can become so desperately at the mercy of rampant substance abuse that shows no sign of abating, in spite of a whole roster of agencies with the responsibility to regulate the production and use of dangerous drugs – and to stop their illegal distribution. The toll on lives and livelihoods alone is difficult to estimate; and it is manifested daily in the wrecked lives of individuals, damaged families and distorted economies. The stark reality is that so many Nigerians are but shadows of their former selves. This is intolerable – as is the very dangerous interplay between dirty money and drug importation, distribution and abuse. This must stop.

7. To kick-start the process of bringing this epidemic under some control, we need to inquire into the strengths and weaknesses of the current policy and its implementation – as well as to understand the ways in which legislation and advocacy might improve. Similarly, we need to take a frank and comprehensive look at our agencies in charge of fighting the epidemic, to better understand where their strengths and weaknesses lie, in order to be able to take remedial measures to strengthen them.

8. Furthermore, we need to improve on inclusiveness, especially with regard to communities and professional bodies, in the design of policies and legislation. This is so that, within a matter of months,the nation can roll out more robust policies and legislation, as well as a battery of agencies that can begin to turn the tide against the epidemic.

9. Above all, we need to send a clear signal from Kano to all Nigerians that this epidemic must be controlled, and can be controlled.

10. This Roundtable is intended to allow all stakeholders access into discussions on the nature of the problem, as well as solutions that need to be put in place. It must be emphasised that the key objective of the Roundtable is not the Roundtable itself. Rather, the Roundtable is expected to trigger a momentum that should resonate in individual lives, families and communities, that the drug abuse culture represents a very serious threat to lives, the economy and national security.

11. Additionally, the Roundtable should yield fresh ideas, new insights and suggestions on how the country can improve on synergy, collaboration and cooperation between government and communities in the fight against drug abuse.

12. Finally, this Roundtable is expected to serve as a catalyst for other initiatives across the country that ought to be taken up at all levelsby Nigerians that share our concern that it is time to stand upagainst this epidemic, and stop it.

13. On behalf of the entire members of the 8th Senate, I would like to thank the Emir of Kano, His Royal Highness Muhammadu Sanusi II (CON), for his support for this Roundtable – and for speaking on the drug issue in the forthright manner we have come to associate with him. Our sincere gratitude also goes to international partners who have been crucial to making this Roundtable a reality, including: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the European Union, World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

14. I feel sure that by the end of this first Roundtable, we would have sent that crucial message to every corner of Nigeria – that drug abuse represents everything that is against our values as a decent society. We will no longer stand for this scourge which is destroying the social structures of our beloved country. It is time to say: Enough. Let us wake the nation.

15. Thank you all for listening. May this Roundtable be the beginning of a decisive turnaround on the drug use crisis in Nigeria.

THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE

SPEECH DELIVERED BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, HIS EXCELLENCY (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, CON, AT THE NORTHERN SENATORS FORUM Retreat.

SPEECH DELIVERED BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, CON, AT THE NORTHERN SENATORS FORUM RETREAT HELD IN KATSINA ON DECEMBER 12, 2017.

PROTOCOL.

1. My Distinguished Colleagues, it is wonderful to be in Katsina, the Home of Hospitality itself. I feel very welcome indeed, and it is particularly gratifying that the Northern Senators Forum Retreat is taking place in this historic city, a seat of leadership in Nigeria for centuries, as we come together to lay the groundwork for a more viable future for this region, and Nigeria as a whole.

2. My sincere gratitude to Your Eminence, Your Excellencies, Your Royal Majesties and Highnesses who have made it a priority to honour the invitation to be at this retreat – to help chart a way forward. Your presence is a further demonstration of the resolute leadership that has seen this region through great turbulence, and which will see us through the present unease.

3. Let me use this opportunity to congratulate the Executive and entire members of the Northern Senators Forum (NSF) for the successful convening of this retreat. Yours is an example of responsible leaders heeding the call of history by rising to the challenges of the moment. This is also evident in the focus of the retreat, which is on the question of the restructuring of the country – with a keen eye on a myriad of issues facing the North.

4. This, therefore, is an ideal forum to examine the various submissionson restructuring as put forward by stakeholders all over the country – with a view to articulating the North’s position in relation to the issue. We are grateful, therefore, for the Northern Senators Forum, which is enjoying a renaissance under the able leadership of Distinguished Senator Abdullahi Adamu; and for the role it stands ready to play in steering the debate. Indeed, as the Chairman has said, the Northern Senators Forum is bringing back its culture of positive engagement in the affairs of the nation. It is my expectation that the culture of the North, and Nigeria in general, will be more strengthened and vibrant as a result of these endeavours.

5. I cannot fail to acknowledge the invaluable contribution of NSF members to the task of steadying the ship of this nation while Mr. President was on medical leave. Members of the Northern Senators Forum – and indeed the entire Senate – led with commitment; theyrejected political opportunism and personal ambition or interest, toput the country first. NSF members were extremely helpful in stabilising the system during that sensitive period. This is the kind of responsible leadership Nigerians rely on us to deliver. You have always been there when the country needed you, not only during Mr. President’s time away, but also on other national issues. We thank you, urge you not to tire in your efforts, and we pray that your energy shall never wane.

6. Distinguished Colleagues and Esteemed Guests, it is perhaps understandable if some in this gathering find the clamourous debate about restructuring a little irksome. We are, after all, meeting in a region that is, for want of a better word, beleaguered. In this regionof ours – hurt and wounded by the cataclysm of insurgency and other problems – talk of restructuring can seem a bit fanciful. Nonetheless, we must face all issues with open minds, giving each the attention it deserves. I am confident that the Northern Senators Forum is up to the task.

7. As we sit here today, we know that a number of challenges confront our region, one being the situation in the North East, on which a lot still needs to be done. I am hopeful that the new North East Development Commission will go a long way in alleviating the difficulties being experienced in the zone. We all have a role to play in improving conditions on the ground in the North East, so that those affected can move towards rebuilding their lives and communities – and look to a future beyond insurgency.

8. It is with that eye on the future that I call our attention, once again, tothe estimated 12 to 15 million children not currently in the educationsystem – the highest number of out-of-school kids in the world. Nigeria’s ignominious distinction in this regard is not only regrettable, it is a weakness in the human assets of this country, and poses a serious threat to national security. It is a stain on ourcollective conscience that such a huge demographic is withouteducation in the 21st century.

9. We simply cannot abandon millions of Nigerian children to the trap of ignorance and poverty. It behoves us, therefore, to come up with policies that will lead to a significant decrease in the out-of-school population, and improve on the numbers as we go along. The crisis in education also manifests itself at tertiary level. When it comes to private universities in this country, the statistics tell the story: the North has the least number. However we look at it, access to education is a serious challenge in the North. We need to change the game, to empower our people to compete on equal terms with the rest of the country, and the world.

10. On the economic front, whatever it will take to bring about growth and development is what must be done. We must work to stimulate greater participation of state governments and the private sector in the economy. We have to create an enabling environment for economic activities, and mitigate those factors that discourageinvestment. It is clear that, as things stand now, there is little or no incentive for an investor to pursue economic activity in locations blighted by insecurity. We need peace and stability, therefore, for our economic objectives to have the chance to come to fruition.

11. Beyond the headlines, the over-arching issues of the North have not gone away. The Northern Senators Forum has its work cut out on this retreat, therefore. Economic diversification is not just a buzzword; it is a real-life transition that must be made, if we are to deliver the dividends of democracy to our people. In this period of economic recovery, it is imperative that we continue to focus priority attention on diversification, with greater emphasis on the need to boost the North’s agriculture and mineral resources sectors, especially food production.

12. We must be the food basket of the nation – and we must do so in reality, not by some oft-repeated cliché. We must be the source of substitution for the food importation that currently amounts to an annual bill of 4 to 5 billion dollars for the country. That self-sufficiency that is central to the economic diversification ethos, must come from the North, must be guaranteed by us, because we have what it takes to make it a reality.

13. Restructuring, for good or for ill, is the front burner issue in the polity at the present time. I have intimated elsewhere that one problem with all the talk about restructuring is that the discussion is not being framed properly – and certain precepts are missing. I have said, and it is my firm conviction, that we must give precedence to the unity of Nigeria at all times, and put the interests of the country first. We must not be afraid to think outside the box. We must not be afraid of reform.

14. While Nigeria seems to be in a quandary over the agitation for restructuring, our situation is hardly unique. These are uncertain times everywhere. Catalonia’s referendum bid is reverberating even in Brussels, where thousands of people staged a rally some days ago. Spain’s Article 155, which imposed direct rule over Catalonia,has implications for everything and everyone – from football star Gerard Pique to cultural artefacts. The hand-wringing goes on in Brexit Britain over Article 50. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, the foundational principles of the American nation are being reexamined – in a debate that touches on everything from the rise of the Alt-Right to anthem protests.

15. In our own soul-searching in this great country Nigeria, it is worth noting that we, members of the 8th National Assembly, are best placed to direct the debate over restructuring – as elected representatives of the people. It is enshrined in our Constitution that no restructuring can happen without the National Assembly. Such is the crucial role we play. I am convinced that the only way we can fulfil this great responsibility, is for us to see ourselves as Nigerians first. Beyond language, religion, region or whatever consideration – we must be Nigerians above all else. It is my hope that this retreat will infuse us with the spirit of compromise necessary to make the required leap. It is only fitting, seeing as our democracy revolves around this same spirit of compromise.

16. At this point, I think it is important to acknowledge that the North has been on the receiving end of considerable vitriol in the course of some of our national debates. We have had to endure some severebashing from those who question what the North brings to the table, even going as far as to suggest that we are parasites on the body of the Nigerian nation. Let us see the vilification – undeserved though it may be – as a challenge to us as leaders to redouble our efforts, and strive to put in place far-sighted policies that will transform the region and silence the naysayers.

17. The question as to what the North brings to the table is bound to resurface in this debate about restructuring. As I see it, the profitable development of the North’s assets proffers its own powerful response to the question. A North led by visionary leadership knows, surely, that it has leverage; and that it ought to renegotiate from a position of strength rather than weakness. Few will disagree with me when I say, therefore, that a North that is economically strong and vibrant is better placed to negotiate on restructuring or whatever else.

18. My own restructuring is when we work towards economic development in every part of the country, so we can all take pride of place in the Nigerian project, and no region is seen as a weak link.

19. My own restructuring is when we oversee the budget process to ensure equitable spread of critical infrastructure in every corner of the country, so that no region is left out of the gains of economic recovery.

20. My own restructuring is when we create jobs and enhance food production so our people do not go hungry.

21. My own restructuring is when we educate our children so that they can realise their full potential and partake in the promise of the future.

22. My own restructuring is when we place a premium on delivering good governance, fight against corruption, valourise honesty and live to serve the people – without betraying the trust reposed in us.

23. These are just a few fragments of my own idea of a restructuring that is not merely cosmetic, but has the power to truly transform lives. Every Nigerian will have his or her own perspective on the issue, no doubt. It is my hope that this retreat will go some way in helping to crystallise these ideas, and shine a light on the road ahead.

24. And so, what do we expect from the Northern Senators Forum in this talk of restructuring? Permit me to suggest that we need you to pay close attention to the debate, having regard to the various shades of opinion on the matter. Thereafter, we look to you to distil from the debate a coherent message that perfectly articulates the position of the North. We have full confidence in you.

25. I have no doubt in my mind that we, as leaders, need to do a lot more work; we need to carry out analyses and research – to be able to pick the substance from the sentiment. I say this because, during the last Constitutional Review, there were items that were rejected, for example, Devolution of Powers. But upon reflection, we realised that it was actually not inimical to the interests of the people. It is my hope that in the quieter atmosphere of this retreat, such issues can get the clear-eyed consideration they deserve. In terms of security, our region has suffered the most, due to the insurgency and other crises. It is in our interest, therefore, to strengthen and reform the security architecture of the North. The onus is on us to provide worthy leadership. We must be focused. We must be prepared to correct the mistakes of the past. We must always be conscious of the need to weigh sentiment against value. More importantly, we should not be afraid of change. Leadership is also the ability to carry out those constitutional reviews that are needed to bring the North, and Nigeria, firmly into the modern age. Let us always remember that our positions are held in trust for future generations. History will not be kind to us if we fail.

26. This is a time for courageous leadership, strong enough to change the narrative of Northern Nigeria.

27. I congratulate you all on this momentous retreat, and I thank you for listening. I wish you a successful retreat.

Long Live the Northern Senators Forum.
Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE

SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE AND CHAIRMAN OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, AT THE OPENING CEREMONY OF THE SECOND ORDINARY SESSION OF THE ECOWAS PARLIAMENT IN ABUJA – NOVEMBER 21, 2017.

SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE AND CHAIRMAN OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, AT THE OPENING CEREMONY OF THE SECOND ORDINARY SESSION OF THE ECOWAS PARLIAMENT IN ABUJA – NOVEMBER 21, 2017.

 

 

PROTOCOL.

 

On behalf of the entire members of the Nigerian National Assembly and the Nigerian Community Delegation, I bid you all welcome to the Second Ordinary Session of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament, holding here in our serene capital city of Abuja. It is a special pleasure to be here today with great parliamentarians from across the West African sub-region, as we gather to chart a new course for the greater development and prosperity of our Community. I greet you all.

 

Your Excellencies, Honourable Members of Parliament, this Ordinary Session is being convened at a most auspicious moment in the history of this Assembly. It is a time of renewed hope for the West African future, with new opportunities as well as challenges we must find the courage to tackle. There are a myriad of issues confronting our people, as well as many impediments to peace and economic growth. The resolutions to these, will be borne out of the hard work of committed ECOWAS parliamentarians, working in close collaboration with the regional Executive, in order that we can move West Africa and her peoples forward. I am confident that this Assembly comprises such visionary and committed parliamentarians as needed, to undertake the task.

 

It could be said that we have done a test run of this cooperation in our own national affairs here in Nigeria, and we are already seeing the benefits. The very good relationship between the Nigerian Executive and the 8th National Assembly was clear to see earlier this month, when President Muhammadu Buhari presented the 2018 Budget in a joint session of the National Assembly. This cooperation of the two arms of the Nigerian government has drawn the commendation of the international community, and was pivotal to Nigeria’s emergence from a difficult period of recession. The country’s growing economic confidence is also expected to be boosted by an early passage of the 2018 Budget – another benefit of the cooperation between the Executive and the national Legislature. Cooperation is the gift that keeps giving, and we commend it to the Community Assembly, so that we can truly make strides towards the greater integration of the West African sub-region.

 

Your Excellencies, Honourable Members of Parliament, this Second Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament is holding at the dawn of a new era of regional governance. When I last addressed you, just over a year ago, my message was a strident call for greater institutional power and authority to reside in the regional Legislature, to enable the ECOWAS Parliament take its rightful place among comparative world bodies, and come into its legislative powers. What a difference a year or so makes. It gives me great satisfaction to note that this Assembly has now made the leap into the future, with its transition from an advisory Parliament to a legislative one. No longer a merely advisory or ceremonial body, this Assembly joins similar regional organisations around the world – including the European Parliament and the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) – in exercising legislative functions such as: Community lawmaking, the passing of the Budget and oversight responsibilities.

 

Finally, after nearly two decades of this Assembly’s existence, the ECOWAS Parliament has truly come into its own, and is further on the road to achieving its true destiny of proper representation for all West African citizens. With the adoption of the Supplementary Act on the Enhancement of the Powers of the Community Parliament, the ECOWAS Parliament presents us with the opportunity to further strengthen regional citizenship, with greater positive impact on the lives of people in the region. More comprehensive implementation of the provisions of the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons and Goods is now within our sights, as is the Right of Residence and Establishment. Greater authorisation and oversight usher in a more decisive impetus regarding the enforcement of regional trade agreements and instruments, including the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS) and the Common External Tariff Order.

 

Your Excellencies, Honourable Members of Parliament, I urge you to seize the opportunity of the newly acquired, and hard won, legislative powers of this Assembly to defeat forces that militate against the peace and development of West Africa. Let us use these enhanced powers to enthrone a regional governance framework whose foundations are laid on democratic principles.

 

We have much to be proud of in West Africa, particularly in our affirmation of the tenets of democratic governance. This region, through ECOWAS, led the way in the resolute rejection of change of government via the barrel of the gun. By so doing, we set the pace for the rest of Africa, such that today, a military coup dares not speak its own name.

 

And yet, we have many challenges still. Hunger and famine, terrorism and insecurity, environmental degradation, displacement and humanitarian crises – these are some of the challenges we face in the sub-region. The Lake Chad region is currently the scene of the most neglected humanitarian crisis in the world, with millions displaced and whole populations threatened by hunger and famine. Nigeria’s North East region has been devastated by the Boko Haram insurgency, West African citizens are being sold into modern day slavery, and desperate children of the sub-region are dying tragically on the Mediterranean Sea. The sooner we can deliver the Vision 2020 that will birth an ‘ECOWAS of the People’, the sooner we will restore hope to the West African citizenry.

 

In addition to the scourge of Boko Haram, the problem of Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM) in Mali – and recent flashpoints in Niger, amongst other menaces – underline the imperative of effective cooperation and partnership in the ECOWAS region, and the crucial role of this Parliament in helping to deliver people-oriented solutions.

 

I have called for an international conference on the situation in Nigeria’s North East, to bring succour to the region and alleviate the pain and suffering of those caught in the resultant humanitarian crisis. This would be in line with similar conferences held in London to find solutions to the situations in Syria and Somalia. But charity begins at home, as they say. Let us never lose sight of the need to find African solutions to African problems. It is my hope that, with this Assembly’s newly enhanced capacity and authorization, regional lawmakers can better work towards African solutions to the many challenges bedeviling the West African territorial space.

 

At this juncture, let me reiterate Nigeria’s commitment to the implementation of the various protocols aimed at achieving greater regional integration. We will also channel our energies to the effective utilisation of the ECOWAS Parliament’s legislative powers. Already, we are looking to amend the necessary laws that will smooth the path to elections of Nigeria’s 35 representatives in the Community Parliament. Our commitment to the integration, unity and progress of the ECOWAS region is unwavering.

 

On behalf of the Nigeria Group of ECOWAS Parliamentarians, and the 8th Nigerian National Assembly, I assure you of our continuing support. I trust that the proceedings of this Second Ordinary Session will be for the well-being and advancement of our beloved West Africa. I wish you fruitful deliberations.

 

Thank you for listening.

 

Long live the ECOWAS Parliament.

 

PRESIDENT OF THE NIGERIAN SENATE AND CHAIRMAN OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY.

GOODWILL MESSAGE BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI C.O.N AT THE NIGERIAN SPORTS SUMMIT 2017, HELD AT THE NATIONAL STADIUM, LAGOS, ON 21ST NOVEMBER 2017.

GOODWILL MESSAGE BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI C.O.N AT THE NIGERIAN SPORTS SUMMIT 2017, HELD AT THE NATIONAL STADIUM, LAGOS, ON 21ST NOVEMBER 2017.

PROTOCOL.

I am especially pleased to be here with you today for The Nigerian Sports Summit 2017 on the theme, ‘Nigerian Sports And Its Economic Diversification Into Entrepreneurial Investment To Enhance Talents, Empowerment and Employment, Security Tool To Make Sport More Productive’. I thank the Honourable Minister for inviting me.

Ladies and gentlemen, the development of the nation’s youth is very dear to my heart, as I am sure it is to all of you. Sport, as we all know, is one of the most effective ways of keeping the youth engaged, and contributes in no small measure to the holistic development of the whole person. We hardly give ourselves the credit in Nigeria, but Sport has been one of the unifying factors that bind the Nigerian nation together. When we are on the field of play, we don’t remember any religious or ethnic divides – we are just Nigerians, and we want to win, for the glory of our country.

Sport is one of the ways in which we inculcate the right ethos in our youth, to better equip them to become leaders of tomorrow. Sport teaches necessary life skills including: individual and collective responsibility, fellow feeling and the benefits of team-working to achieve a common goal. These are all qualities we need in our daily lives, and which are crucial to strengthening the building blocks of the Nigerian character.

Not to mention that sport offers the ultimate vision of the excellence inherent in the human body and psychology, when it is finely tuned by discipline, training, continuous application and the right mental attitude. Not to mention that sports keep us fit to better confront the challenges of life.

Sport, therefore, is more than just entertainment. It has given us some of the purest moments of joy and pride in our national life. Our society is in dire need of heroes who are not just captains of industry and so on, and sports is a veritable conveyor belt that constantly produces heroes – sporting role models – to inspire and propel the dreams and aspirations of our youth, to let them know that they, too, can achieve it, if they would just try.

That said, it is important that we remind ourselves of the many challenges in the arena, especially in terms of grassroots sports development. Back in the day, hardly anyone could pass out of secondary school without been active in Inter-House Sports and Inter-School and Inter-State Sports Competitions, and so on. This was the case back then, whether in public or private schools – and the would-be sports stars discovered their talents and mapped out their future direction in that regard – right from school. Sporting organisations, administrators and talent scouts identified gifted athletes early, and helped guide them into realising their potential. Is it like that today? How many Inter-House Sports activities are taking place today in our schools?

There is an urgent need to intensify efforts in this direction. We must redouble our search for future Olympians who will raise Nigeria’s colours in glory. It is all very well when we applaud sporting starts of Nigerian origin who win medals for other countries. But the question we should ask ourselves is this: would this person have achieved similar success if they had stayed back home in Nigeria? I am not sure we can answer that question with too much confidence. We must take it as a challenge, therefore, to create the enabling, encouraging and nurturing environment at home that will see our sporting stars properly developed under the guidance of a visionary Nigerian sporting establishment. We must invest in sporting infrastructure and see to it that the remuneration and stipends of our sportsmen and women are remitted efficiently, as and when due, to keep them encouraged.

Only recently, I had the special pleasure of being among the joyous crowd that cheered on the Super Eagles at the Uyo Stadium, as the National team qualified for the 2018 World Cup. But we must remember that football is not the only sport. Let us commit ourselves to working for the growth of all sports – so that we can have even greater chances of showing up strongly on those medal tables.

In the last few days, I have been cheered by news of the achievement of a trio of Nigerian young ladies – Seyi Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omega – who together make up the history making Nigerian bobsled team that has qualified for the 2018 Winter Olympics. It is the first time a team from a tropical country such as ours will be breaking down boundaries to participate at the Winter tournament, proving that life truly imitates art. Some of you may remember a hit film from the 1990s, titled ‘Cool Runnings’, which was based on what had seemed like an impossible premise – black people competing, and winning, on snow. Thanks to our wave-making bobsled team, the fictional story of that film, is now reality, with Nigeria at the driving seat. It is my firm belief that we should replicate and engineer such success stories here at home.

Let me assure you of the support and commitment of the National Assembly for the greater development of sports in Nigeria. Indeed, we are confident that the new National Sports Commission law passed by the Senate earlier this year – and other legislative endeavour on the part of the legislature, will further strengthen the sporting environment.

I hope our sportsmen and women, as well as the sports administrators here present, will seize the opportunity of this Summit, as we all look forward to a much revived sporting environment.

Thank you and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE

SPEECH DELIVERED BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY, SENATOR (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI (C.O.N) ON THE PRESENTATION OF THE 2018 APPROPRIATION BILL – 7TH NOVEMBER, 2017

SPEECH DELIVERED BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY, SENATOR (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI (C.O.N) ON THE PRESENTATION OF THE 2018 APPROPRIATION BILL – 7TH NOVEMBER, 2017.

 

PROTOCOL.

 

 

 

1. Mr. President, on behalf of my colleagues, Distinguished Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Honourable Members of the House of Representatives, I welcome you and members of your Executive team to this joint session of the National Assembly.

 

2. What a delight it is to see you looking so well and rejuvenated, Mr. President. We are most grateful to God for your revived state of health in this period of national recovery, and we pray it continues. Let me use this opportunity to thank all those Members of the National Assembly that put the country first and resisted the urge to play politics during Mr. President’s time away.

 

3. It is pleasing to note that the budget is being presented earlier than December. This is a welcome development.

 

4. I must commend Mr. President, the Economic Management Team, my Distinguished colleagues and Honourable members of the House of Representatives as well as all Nigerians, for working together to make the necessary sacrifices to get the economy out of recession. Without doubt, this recovery benefitted from greater policy coordination, prioritization and passage of economic reform bills, but more importantly, the resilience of the Nigerian people. Having said that, it is pertinent to note that the implementation of the 2018 Budget – how it is implemented – will be a defining element of this Administration. We must therefore continue to work together to steady the ship of this recovery.

 

5. As the country gradually recovers, it is important to reset the fundamentals that drive our economy – so we do not slide back into recession. We must reassess the relationship between oil and our economy. Oil prices are gradually inching up, but that is no reason for complacency in our diversification drive. We must grow our economy away from oil – as well as the need to increase non-oil revenue generation and collection.

 

6. Revenue from taxes as well as independent revenues from State Owned Enterprises must be taken seriously. If the budget is to be funded, we cannot afford to turn a blind eye to revenue under-performance. While there is a need to review extant laws guiding the operation of some Government enterprises, I would urge for more determined effort on the part of the Executive, to plug leakages. This sector alone accounts for over 40 trillion naira in valuation, of which less than 400 billion naira is remitted as revenue to the Consolidated Federation Account. This is not acceptable. We need to vigorously address this area.

 

7. The budgets of parastatals and agencies are meant to be submitted with this budget presentation, as stipulated by the constitution. We must work to ensure that these are passed by the end of the year, and sanction those parastatals and agencies that fail to submit their budget along with the 2018 budget, and deny access to capital expenditure unless budget is passed.

 

8. Further to the area of increasing independent revenue, there is the need to review agreements that government has signed with some private sector service providers. Many of these agreements are biased, and clearly, not in the interest of the country.

 

9. We appreciate the need to spend, Mr. President. However, we must ensure that our borrowing is targeted at productive projects that will stimulate the economy. We must ensure real value-for-money in projects funded by borrowing, and make doubly sure that the projects are not overpriced.

 

 

 

10. To ensure consistency in government’s economic programmes and tax policies, we will be requiring that the submission of the 2018 Budget – and budget submissions going forward – be accompanied by a Finance Bill. This bill – which should clearly detail the imposition, alteration or regulation of taxes such as the proposed tax on luxury items and excise taxes, among others – will put the financial proposals of government into effect.

 

11. As we are all aware, many businesses were adversely affected by the recession; many lost their means of livelihood. As the country emerges from that period of uncertainty, the question on the lips of many Nigerians has been this: How does the recovery translate into tangible economic benefits for me? We must remember that the real gains must be felt on a personal level by the individual, for economic recovery to have meaning. People are seeking to get back to work but cannot find jobs. Entrepreneurs want to restart their businesses but are finding it difficult to access the needed capital. As for our farmers, the last thing they want is for produce to go to waste because people cannot afford to buy.

 

12. Looking around today, we see that many of our undergraduates are apprehensive about their graduation day; and our National Youth Corps members are not looking forward to the end of the service year, for fear of being tagged ‘unemployed’. While I commend your current efforts at tackling unemployment – especially among the youth through Federal Youth Programmes such as YouWin, N-Power, and YES-Programme – deliberate steps must be taken to make the 2018 budget a job oriented one.

 

13. In line with that, we must see to the implementation of the Procurement law, with particular relevance to the part that has to do with support for Made-In-Nigeria goods. The implementation of the 2018 budget must anchor on the Made-In-Nigeria project. This should be reflected in government procurements in 2018.

14. As we strive to start implementing the budget from January, all would be in vain if we do not eliminate unnecessary bureaucracy and speed up the procurement process. We are working towards reviewing the Procurement Act to achieve this.

15. Also, government should continue to create the enabling environment for private sector businesses to thrive through its policies and spending priorities. As we pat ourselves on the back that Nigeria has made a quantum leap, going up 24 places in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business ranking, we cannot rest on our laurels. There is a need to complement reforms in the ease of doing business with targeted spending on those critical infrastructure projects that enhance economic activity and job creation.

16. In view of this, we must move beyond budgetary provisions without adequate funding available for the execution of projects – and ensure that selection of contractors, as well as the release of funds, are transparent. We must therefore make project completion a top priority, especially those projects that directly impact the lives of our people.

17. On our part, the 8th National Assembly is standing firm on its objective of expanding economic opportunities through economic reform bills that we have prioritized. Some of these are beginning to affirm the vision of reforms that we need in order to move our country forward.

18. Let me now talk about mainstreaming social inclusion. Mr. President, each and every Nigerian wants to be part of the economic progress. We must never lose sight of the need for equity and balanced development across the entire spread of our country. Infrastructural development should be seen to be well distributed, to create growth pools away from the major city centres and drive the regeneration of our rural areas. Agriculture, for instance, is meaningless without those that will engage in farming in the countryside. The current rate of rural-to-urban migration is alarming and unsustainable – congesting the cities and stretching resources to breaking point, while undermining the economic viability of some states. People must be able to see a future for themselves in every corner of this country, not just in the big cities.

19. Mr. President, there are big ticket projects like Power, Rail and A-Trunk roads, but also, there are smaller projects which impact people’s lives. We must do both. Those in charge should ensure proper execution or face sanction.

20. It is important that I emphasize that the presentation of the budget should in no way dampen enthusiasm for the implementation of the 2017 Budget. Whatever needs to be done to ensure that we achieve close to full implementation of the budget, is what must be done.

21. As I close, Mr. President, I would like to advise and caution that there is no better time in this Administration than now for a rigorous drive for good working relationship between the Executive and the Legislature. The early passage of the 2018 budget will depend on this good working relationship. The passage of important Executive bills that improve ‘ease of doing business’ is also dependent on this. So, Mr. President, the 469 Members in this chamber are your true partners that will ensure the success of your administration in achieving its goals and objectives. So, lobby them (not the PDP way), close ranks and let them work for you.

22. Let me assure Mr. President that, in considering the 2018 Budget proposal, the National Assembly will work with your team, as we are convinced that more can be achieved together.

23. On this note, I hereby invite Your Excellency to deliver your speech and lay the 2018 Budget proposal for the consideration of the National Assembly, in accordance with Section 81 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.

24. I thank you all for your attention.

PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE

 

GOODWILL MESSAGE BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, ON THE OCCASION OF THE INAUGURATION OF THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON NIGERIA-MOROCCO PARLIAMENTARY FRIENDSHIP GROUP.

GOODWILL MESSAGE BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY, SENATOR (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, ON THE OCCASION OF THE INAUGURATION OF THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON NIGERIA-MOROCCO PARLIAMENTARY FRIENDSHIP GROUP AT SENATE CONFERENCE ROOM 0.22, WEDNESDAY 4TH OCTOBER 2017.

 

Protocol,

1. I am highly delighted to deliver a goodwill message on the occasion of the inauguration of the Senate Committee on Nigeria-Morocco Parliamentary Friendship Group. I welcome all members to this important event.

 

2. Distinguished colleagues, Nigeria and Morocco are two of the greatest countries in the North-West African region. Our individual history, positions, importance as leaders in the continent, logically prompts us to combine efforts and economies for a sustainable development of the continent.

 

3. Following King Mohammed VI’s royal visit to President Muhamadu Buhari in December 2016, the two countries have enjoyed several bilateral trade and economic relations. The relationship has opened a gate way to very strategic partnerships especially with the pipeline and fertilizer agreements signed in Rabat in May 2017. These two agreements have continental scope and dimension as their success will be a major milestone for the region. The economic advantage of our unity is the gas pipeline project for which cooperation agreement has been signed.

 

4. The integration of Africa into the global energy equation has come to stay and Nigeria and morocco have a strategic role to play to economically link Africa to Europe and other consumer nations.

 

5. The multi-billion dollar OCP (Morocco) and FESPAN (Nigeria) agreement on the production of fertilizer will have an effect on the economy of the region as a whole. It will allow agricultural development which will creategreater prosperity, improve food security and eradicate hunger. It is expected that the public and private sectors of both countries would collaborate to leverage on the abundant opportunities to create sustainable economic growth in the region. I have no doubt in my mind that Nigeria and Morocco’s relationship is at all-time best, thus we must do everything possible to maintain and strengthen this unique cooperation.

 

6. Following my visit to the President of the House of Councilors in Rabat in the month of March this year, H.E. Mr. Hakim Benchamach and I discussed how to deepen parliamentary cooperation between Nigeria and Morocco in order to support our executive arm of governments. We came to the conclusion that setting up an effective parliamentary friendship group at the parliament of both countries is a good starting point. I am happy that we have kept this promise and moving towards the brighter side of our relationship. Another issue that came up during my visit to Rabat that is relevant to what we are doing here today, was the possibility of setting up an inter-continental forum of parliaments in Africa and Latin America through a joint parliamentary action within the framework of south-south cooperation. This committee can consider taking up such an agenda to discuss the pros and cons and the overall benefit to our people particularly in achieving our sustainable development agenda.

 

7. As an inter-parliamentary group I expect all members of the Nigeria-Morocco Parliamentary Friendship group to foster the development of friendship between our two countries and develop close relations and cooperation between our parliaments. Our role as parliamentarians is to formulate legislations that will build on the already blooming relationship between our countries and create ripple effects across the Africa. I want to urge you to put in your best, sacrifice time and always look for compromise to move our relationship forward.

 

8. This committee hereby stands inaugurated on this day the 4th October 2017.

 

9. I wish you successful deliberations and hope our visitors from the Moroccan parliament will relish the ambience of the Capital city of Abuja and its diverse mixture of Nigeria’s cultures.

 

10. Thank you and God Bless

God Bless the National Assembly

God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria

 

PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE

KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY, SENATOR (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, AT THE IPU AFRICA REGIONAL CONFERENCE OF YOUNG PARLIAMENTARIANS

KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY, SENATOR (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, AT THE IPU AFRICA REGIONAL CONFERENCE OF YOUNG PARLIAMENTARIANS AT THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY, ABUJA, 27TH – 28TH 2017.

 

Protocol;

 

I am delighted to deliver this keynote address on the regional conference of young Parliamentarians in Africa under the auspices of the Young Parliamentarians Forum of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).

 

The memories are still fresh on how the Honorable Speaker of the House of Representatives and my humble self, inaugurated this forum in this same conference room two years ago. That singular action made us to become part of history, a feeling of providing leadership in legislative advocacy, consensus building and living up to the feelings, aspirations and developmental agenda of young person’s not only in Nigeria but across the continent of Africa.

 

History is once again being written today on an International scale, courtesy of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and Young Parliamentarians of the National Assembly and their counterparts from Africa sister countries as well as Honorable members from Nigeria’s State Houses of Assembly.

 

Today, we host prestigious members of African Parliaments and members of the global community not to mention the unexpected but highly appreciated presence of Mr. Martin Chungong, the Secretary General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. We welcome you all to Nigeria and we hope you will relish the ambience of the Capital city of Abuja and its diverse mixture of Nigeria’s cultures.

 

I cannot agree more on the strategic importance of the theme of this conference in national development of our countries. Your presence to us, is an undeniable justification of the resolve of the Nigerian National Parliament to take a confident walk on the trail of achieving socio-economic and political inclusion of the Nigerian youth, a collaborative effort that is crucial to achieving good governance and development. More importantly, the effort of the National Assembly is targeted at making the youth initiators of positive energies for global peace.

 

The agitations of Young Members of the National Assembly, youth groups and Civil Society organisations for the inclusion of young persons in leadership and in the decision making process, is not just one of those instruments adopted by pressure groups to attract attention but a demand for initiating and sustaining good governance and development. Therefore, when these agitations were expressed in form of a request for the reduction in the qualification age for running for Public offices, the leadership of the National Assembly saw it as an opportunity to change the leadership temperament in developing societies, an opportunity to prepare for the future of Africa as a socio-economically and politically developed continent. It gladdens my heart that the National Assembly reduced the age qualification for running for Public offices to as low as 25 years and we believe this will be enshrined in our Constitution after the entire amendment process must have been completed.

 

Inclusiveness as it relates to the theme of this Conference is a panacea to achieving peaceful societies, however where injustice, poverty and lack of political will for reform are paramount, political engagement and inclusiveness of youth will achieve very little or none at all.

 

As members of parliaments, we will have to be more committed to enacting legislations and giving legislative backing to policies that will eradicate poverty, exhume and expunge injustice in our society and help in the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

 

Obviously in Africa, the concentration of political leadership must shift from playing “politics of perpetuation” to developing the education sector, building a sustainable, localized and industrialized economy that can create jobs for the teeming population of Africa’s youth. It is shocking to note that according to the African Development Bank Report, over 25% of African youth population is still illiterate. Fellow parliamentarians we have an enormous task before us.

 

In identifying with the ideals of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the leadership of the National Assembly of Nigeria had supported the Young Parliamentarians Forum which has remained very active and served as a strong platform of interfacing with youth constituencies of our country. We commend their work under the leadership of Honorable Rapheal Igbokwe, Chairman YPF.

 

In the same vein, we had given institutional support to the establishment and functioning of the Youth Parliament of Nigeria by providing funding and office space in the National Assembly for their operations and legislative sittings. This is the first of its kind and a further demonstration of the commitment of the leadership of the National Assembly to enhancing youth inclusion and preparing them for leadership by exposing them to the decision making process.

 

I am convinced that this gathering of future captains of the ships that will navigate Africa’s development will continue to cooperate and work together in partnership with the Inter-Parliamentary Union and our national parliaments.

 

We thank you for the interest shown in Africa’s development, we will definitely avail ourselves of the advocacy opportunities offered and I am sure the outcome of the deliberations here be beneficial to all.

 

Your Excellences, Secretary General of the IPU, my brother Legislators from Africa and the State Assemblies, it is therefore my pleasure to declare this Conference open.

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you.

 

God Bless you

God Bless the IPU

God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria

 

Senator (Dr.) Abubakar Bukola Saraki, CON

PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE

FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA

 

WELCOME BACK SPEECH BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, HIS EXCELLENCY, SENATOR (DR) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI (CON) ON THE 8TH SENATE’S RESUMPTION OF PLENARY FROM THE 2017 ANNUAL RECESS

WELCOME BACK SPEECH BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, HIS EXCELLENCY, SENATOR (DR) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI (CON) ON THE 8TH SENATE’S RESUMPTION OF PLENARY FROM THE 2017 ANNUAL RECESS ON TUESDAY, 26 SEPTEMBER, 2017.

 

PROTOCOL

 

  1. Distinguished colleagues, it a great pleasure to see you all back from our annual recess. In truth, it has always been a special privilege to welcome you my colleagues into this chamber, and today is no exception. I believe the recess afforded us, opportunity to take stock on the journey so far, consult widely with our constituents and be re-energized for the tasks ahead.

 

  1. Let me also use this opportunity to, on behalf of the entire Senate commiserate with our colleague Senator Gilbert Nnaji (Enugu East), who recently lost his amiable wife, Lady Ann Nnaji, after a brief illness. We pray that the good lord will grant her eternal rest and you, our dear Senator Gilbert, the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss.

 

  1. Distinguished colleagues, we have in the last two sessions of our term devoted enormous time, working hard on critical legislation, some with historical essence and others with relatively high-level implications for enhancing the welfare of our people and putting food on their tables. I am happy to tell you that some of these bills which has since become law have already started yielding expected gains. This is especially so with the Secure Transactions in Movable Assets Act, with increased lending to private sector. We expect more to come. Our ultimate aim will be, inclusive growth, full employment for our people and frameworks that enable our young people to run viable startups.

 

  1. Distinguished colleagues, as a firm believer that economic security is first and most important security we can offer our people, it is the apparent inadequacy of this security that is at the heart of the general disaffection of our people towards government. We have done this with the belief that with less hunger on the street; with more of our people gainfully engaged; insecurity will be significantly reduced and our economy revamped. In this period, I expect us to conclude work on the National Transport Commission Bill, and the National Road Funds Bill, the Petroleum Industry Fiscal and Host Community Bill which are pending. It is my hope that we shall conclude work quickly on the Bank lending rate reduction initiative and the National Payment Systems Bill.

 

  1. As we continue to take action to strengthen our economy, let me use this opportunity to congratulate all Nigerians for working together to get us out of recession. While we congratulate ourselves for exiting the recession, it is important that we don’t rest on our oars as this is not an end in itself. There is a lot of work ahead. Our aim is to see our economy create millions of new jobs and see growth rates of 7% or more. This is why the implementation of the 2017 budget is crucial.

 

  1. By the first week of October, we expect to begin the review of the implementation of the 2017 budget. To set the stage for this, we expect to invite the Ministers of Finance and Budget Planning to come and brief the Senate on implementation so far. Nigerians want to see a more significant improvement in the level of implementation of the budget this financial year. Let me therefore use this opportunity to call on all our standing committees to begin the process of putting together their oversight plan for a close and proper review of the performance of the 2017 Budget. In the same token, we must remind ourselves of the initiative we started and for which we have significant stride – that is, the Made in Nigeria initiative. Distinguished colleagues, it is time to enter the next stage of this initiative; the oversight of implementation to ensure that the policy yields expected gains.

 

  1. I will like therefore to see the committees demonstrate proactivity and readiness to engage government to ensure that at least a significant portion of our annual budget is fully dedicated to local procurement. All committees of the Senate must be involved in this and find better channels to engage our people and enable feedbacks. However, for these efforts to be successful it is required that we maintain peace and political stability. Hence the need for all of us to fight to keep Nigeria united and prosperous.

 

  1. Distinguished colleagues, a house divided against itself will not stand. More than ever before, we need to stand for the unity and indivisibility of our country. We must condemn in the strongest possible terms all forms of violence as a form of engagement. The Constitution and laws have laid down tools and procedures for us to push through our interest as all democratic nations do. Our nation is blessed with exceptionally talented and beautiful people, we are collectively strong and indomitable and it is time for all of us to stand up for our nation. Our dream of a virile nation must keep us motivated and this dream is already at the horizon.

 

  1. Distinguished colleagues, as leaders, closest to our people, we must rededicate ourselves to the values we have institutionalized in this chamber. In this chamber, we are first and foremost, Nigerians. Yes, we are Igbos, Yorubas, Hausas, Fulanis. Yes, we are Muslims, Christians and traditional worshipers. But we must in all our conversations and decisions continue to be first and foremost Nigerians and as Nigerian citizens be our brothers’ keepers. Too many of our youths, too many of our families from the South to the North need a lifting. Our job is to help government give them a hand and ones again make them feel great again being Nigerians. This is our mission.

 

  1. As we work to even make our Constitution better, it must be remembered that Constitution review is a continuous process which we must undertake with the vision of the future in our minds. The process we have already will continue in earnest with the meeting of the speakers of the various state Houses of Assembly and the National Assembly with a view to moving forward with the process. As promised, we will revisit and consider areas of the Constitution we believe will further strengthen our federation and enable our collective dream for a more prosperous Nigeria.

 

  1. In the fight against corruption, aside the bills we have passed, it is important that we also sharpen up our oversight tools to ensure that government remains accountable always. However, I urge us all to more than ever, operate above board ourselves. In the last two years, we have successfully exposed numerous cases of corruption in our agencies and officers of government and as a result saved government enormous amount of public resources. This is what Nigerian people expect of us and we must continue to deliver on this. We must not make the mistake of resting on our oars. I say this to encourage you to keep up with the good works of exposing corruption as you have been doing so far. Yes, like Senator Isah Hamma Misau who had the courage to expose deep rooted institutional corruption, you will be attacked, blackmailed and insulted but, unlike any former Senate before this, we will not bow or be intimidated.

 

  1. Distinguished colleagues, our focus on interventions critical to our national development will continue in this session. We will be interacting with stakeholders with the aim of repositioning our education sector and the health sector especially with the health insurance subsector as key primers of the economy. The major direction will be to expand access to basic education and health, incentivize investment in these critical sectors and find lasting solutions to issues of strikes and interruption in these sectors.

 

  1. Dear colleagues, we are all witness to the revolutionary growth of innovative works and remarkable fits Nigerians both in the entertainment industry and software development are making across the globe. However, their ability to fully harness and reap the fruits of their effort continues to be hampered by our intellectual property regime which is yet to be reformed to meet with today’s digital realities and opportunities. We are determined to contribute our quota to make their lives easier and better by initiating and paying close attention to our intellectual property (IP) rights frameworks.

 

  1. Distinguished colleagues, a lot has happened in our nation within the last few weeks especially with the floods. Let me take a moment to commiserate with all Nigerians who may have been affected by the recent floods. Our hearts and prayers are with you at this period.

 

  1. On a salutary note, I am happy to report to you distinguished colleagues that while we were away, we also took note of some of the strides Nigerians have been making. We congratulate our women on the wining of the African Basket Ball Championship. We also congratulate our Super Eagles on their journey so far for the world cup qualifiers and we will continue to support and encourage them.

 

  1. Before, I conclude this speech, let me on another winning note and on your behalf welcome Mr. President who has acknowledge his return to office through an executive communication earlier within the period of our vacation back to the saddle. We pray that the almighty Allah will continue to grant him full restoration.

 

  1. Let me wish us all a very successful session. Thank you all and God bless Nigeria.

 

PREIDENT OF THE SENATE

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