KEYNOTE ADDRESS DELIVERED BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, AT THE AFRICA FINANCE FORUM ORGANISED BY THE CORPORATE COUNCIL ON AFRICA IN WASHINGTON D.C., UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,

KEYNOTE ADDRESS DELIVERED BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, CON, MBBS, AT THE AFRICA FINANCE FORUM ORGANISED BY THE CORPORATE COUNCIL ON AFRICA IN WASHINGTON D.C., UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, ON APRIL 18, 2018.

 

PROTOCOL.

 

It gives me great pleasure to be among you here at the Africa Finance Forum. It is always time well spent when we come together like this to share ideas on ways of propelling the economic growth of the continent. Only a few weeks ago, I was at the Georgetown Africa Business Conference in this city. I see the Africa Finance Forum as a further opportunity to expand on the discussions from that conference and to channel them in various, equally profitable directions. In this instance, there is the platform to explore the role being played by the FinTech industry in driving growth and innovation in the finance sector and financing on the African continent. I thank the organisers for inviting me.

 

The Corporate Council on Africa is to be commended for the successful convening of this very important event, therefore; and for the inspired focus on the FinTech environment on the continent, which, as we all recognise, is entering into an unprecedented period of boom. I would like to talk a bit about what this holds in store for the continent, but I must also, necessarily, particularise my focus by dwelling on my country, Nigeria. In doing so, I hope to share some background as experienced in Nigeria thus far with regard to FinTech, as well as the steps we are taking in the Nigerian legislature to regulate the banking industry and facilitate digital finance in the country.

 

FinTech has enjoyed a tremendous upsurge in the global economy, but it is also true that excitement is revving up for Africa as the next frontier in this industry. Consider this encounter related to me just this past week by a friend who went on a 10-hour road trip from Nigerias capital Abuja to the commercial centre of Lagos, in the south-west of the country. He was travelling through stretch of rural countryside when he stopped to buy some plantains from a roadside seller, a young woman with a baby on her back. When he muttered that he could not buy as much as was on offer despite the persuasive sales pitch, due to limited naira notes in his wallet, the woman without missing a beat – asked him in Pidgin English, Oga, You No Get Transfer? Not such a country bumpkin after all. The seller was, of course, referring to the popular USSD or web-based mobile funds transfer services, now offered by most banks in Nigeria. Such is the impact of the digital finance revolution now apace on the continent, you underestimate the rural plantain seller at your peril.

 

Without a doubt, the success of FinTechs and their chain of strategic responses have challenged the activities of the major actors in the financial services industry across Africa. They are transforming the operational space of traditional innovation; and with a massive potential for creating significant revenue generation opportunities for African economies. The facts speak for themselves. A KPMG Report found that investment in the African FinTech sector quadrupled in the three years up to 2017 from $198 million to $800 million. 2017 was a phenomenally successful year for African tech start-ups in general; over $195 million was raised in funding, an increase of 51 per cent on 2016. This is according to the Disrupt Africa African Tech Start-Ups Funding Report 2017 – which noted that the number of start-ups receiving funding rose to 159. FinTech companies received almost a third of that funding due to their pull for investors eager to tap into the huge potentials in the sector.

 

Nigeria is now one of the top three African destinations for tech investors. And this should be no surprise. One needs only take a look at the flourishing tech hubs in Yaba in Lagos, Nigeria or Nairobi, Kenya – to get a sense of the radical changes being made possible by technology in the economic landscape of these countries. Naturally, a continent with a fast growing, youth-powered population that is plugged into content production and keen to keep abreast of information, must innovate. With apps and entertainment platforms aided by broadband technology that is driven by young African investors, the industry is scaling new heights. Tech start-ups proved particularly resilient during the recent slump in the Nigerian economy. These companies not only emerged from the recession relatively unscathed, they are attracting major seed funding and driving business growth.

 

One remarkable factor is the convergence of two sectors: mobile telecommunications and finance. In Nigeria, for example, tele-density has grown from less than one per cent to 108 per cent in just 16 years of the liberalisation of the telecoms sector, making ours one of the fastest growing telecommunications sectors in the world. The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) estimates that investment in the sector is now in excess of 68 billion dollars contributing up to 15 trillion naira into the countrys treasury – the Federations Account, as we call it in Nigeria. The sector has created hundreds of thousands of direct and indirect jobs, while also driving businesses and innovations in the ICT sub-sector. This explosion is clear evidence of the uniquely expansive market when you have a population of about 180 million people, half of whom are between the ages of 15 to 35.

 

And here is really exciting thing, ladies and gentlemen, the potential for growth in this area of convergence, the investment opportunity, is simply incalculable, especially when we are talking of a country like Nigeria. Yes, indeed, 7 out of every 10 Africans own mobile phones but in Nigeria, that corresponds to only 15.5 million smartphone users at present, a mere 23 per cent. Internet penetration is still less than half of the population, at 47 per cent. This really comes into focus in a continent where only 17 per cent of the population has access to banking services. And so, rather than FinTechs role as a disruptive force in the more developed economies such as here in the United States, digital financing is actually the key to bridging the gap in the banking sector across many African countries.

 

In my speech at the first Africa FinTech Foundry (AFF) 2017 Conference held in Lagos last December, I touched on the need to accelerate the growth of FinTech start-ups that can rise to the challenge of providing access to banking services for the unbanked in Africa. This is so that more people, like that plantain seller by the rural roadside, can be empowered to conduct economic activity and make or receive payment in a seamless manner. It also opens up the economic space for greater financial inclusion, thereby enabling Nigerians at all levels to be drivers of economic growth.

 

In the 8th National Assembly under my leadership, we have pursued a robust economic legislative agenda; and the two legislative chambers namely the Senate for which I am President; and the Federal House of Representatives have worked closely with the Nigerian Presidency to reform the economy for greater efficiency and transparency. We are working to expand opportunity for our people to grow wealth, create employment and aspire to better standards of living and the private sector is the pivot for realising these goals. We have, therefore, made economic laws a priority, to foster ease of doing business and to increase private sector participation at all levels of the economy.

 

No fewer than 500 tech start-ups have come up in the Nigerian technology eco-system over the last decade, enabling business processes and by so doing, enhancing economic activity and providing Africa-led solutions to economic problems. However, without funding, many of these ventures and tech start-ups would flounder, to the detriment of the economy. In our pursuit of a robust FinTech-driven digital economy, therefore, we are mindful of the need to use technology to bridge the funding gap between innovators, regulators and government.

 

We recognise the role of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in economic growth and development; and that is why the National Assembly has prioritised the passage of landmark economic laws to enable SMEs to grow and prosper, including: the Warehouse Receipts Bill; the Secured Transactions in Movable Assets Bill and the Credit Reporting Bill. SMEs employ around 80 per cent of the Nigerian labour force; and can help bring down the unemployment rate. In light of all of this, the potential of FinTech to grow SMEs cannot be overstated. Nor can we over-emphasise the importance of the use of digital financial services – such as mobile banking, mobile money, internet banking, ATM and PoS machines – to achieve financial inclusion. The ease and cost of processing and collecting payments for products delivered, or services rendered, is critical to the success of the modern-day SME. And, thanks to the growth of the FinTech Industry in Nigeria, the cost of integrating online payments to a website is drastically reduced.

 

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), as a signatory to the MAYA Declaration, has launched a Nigerian Financial Inclusion Strategy which aims to halve the number of financially excluded Nigerians, to bring it down to 20 per cent by Year 2020. Already, the average citizen can carry out transactions using Short Codes, thus banking is made available to mobile phone users. There is greater ease in carrying out bank transactions, as most banks in Nigeria have mobile apps that enable banking outside bank premises or traditional opening hours. The unbanked are increasingly being banked; financial transactions can now be carried out in areas where there no banks; and Nigerians can easily transfer cash to people in the rural and suburban locations the same way as those in remote areas can carry out transactions without going in search of a bank.

 

These all point in the direction that Nigeria needs to go, as one of the fastest growing digital financial platforms in the world, in order to reap the full benefits of the FinTech revolution. So far, banks have been the most active players in partnering with FinTechs and rebranding related purchased services. And not for no reason. The 2017 Nigeria FinTech Survey Report by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) found that more than 62 per cent of bank customers in the country will use mobile applications to access financial services over the next five years. The potential for growth in digital financing is simply enormous in Nigeria; and the signs abound in our business terrain.

 

This is why this topic is so timely as it is coinciding with our work at the National Assemblyin particular the 8th Senate through the Committee on Banking and Financial Institutionsto ensure financial inclusion for all; especially in the rural areas where a large percentage still remains unbanked; by bridging services between the banking and telecommunications sectors. The two sectors have been meeting to find a financial inclusion or services model that works for the complexities of our people and opens up more opportunities for economic growth at all levels of society. Our model could borrow from the success stories of countries like Kenya and South Africa but will be uniquely tailored to our needs and entrepreneurial spirit.

 

The net impact of our legislative interventions; through the relevant Committees oversight and engagement will be to expand the ability of our banking sector to facilitate digital financing, expand the opportunity for financial services penetration and reach with the SMEs, and for enterprise support. We believe that these will give a fillip to the development of innovation and private sector capacity across the country. You will agree with me that innovation is the engine that powers financial inclusion. We are therefore working assiduously to encourage innovation in the FinTech space in Nigeria, and we shall continue to do so.

 

As you might imagine, there are many challenges raised by the growth of FinTech in Nigeria. These include consumer protection and intellectual property issues as well as concerns about money laundering, fraudulent activity and so on. And then there is the data quagmire; legal and ethical questions raised by the use and abuse of data are the subject of global anxiety right now. FinTech growth requires us to pay attention to all of these, and to come up with regulatory frameworks that will safeguard our people. Therefore, as we seek to improve the business environment for SMEs and tech entrepreneurs in Nigeria, we are also committed to passing legislation that strikes a balance between facilitating the sector and maintaining a secure financial system.

 

We are continuously working work to reframe our payment systems, strengthen mechanisms for electronic commerce, reduce non-performing loans and strengthen the credit market for SMEs through a broad range of legislative interventions. These include: the Electronic Transactions Act; the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (Repeal and Re-Enactment) Bill; the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission Act which creates a Consumer Protection Commission to safeguard consumers from fraud and price manipulation; and the Consumer Credit Agency Act which allows lenders to better assess the credit worthiness of loan applicants.

 

The Credit Reporting Act, which has been signed into law, will enable the market reduce credit delinquencies. This bill would serve as a behaviour changing and institutional framework that brings sanity into the credit community and inspires confidence in the Nigerian market, drawing in more participants.

 

The Secure Transactions in Movable Assets is the signature bill in our support of SMEs. It frees up capital and creates opportunity for the funding of SME ventures as never seen before in Nigeria. With this law, we have created a new stream of opportunity for SMEs to access capital by using movable goods including small machinery, cell phones and even household items as collateral. The implication of this is enormous in terms of dealing with capital formation and poverty eradication.

 

Our work is not exhaustive and will continue to adapt to changes that innovation in technology brings. We are confident in the signals we are sending to the world, that Nigeria fully intends to key into the astronomical growth of the FinTech industry and to harness its full potential for the benefit of the largest economy in Africa; and we welcome any partnerships that ensure that this happens.

 

Thank you.

 

THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE 

Federal Republic of Nigeria 

OPENING REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, HIS EXCELLENCY, (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, CON, MBBS, AT THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY PUBLIC HEARING ON THE 2018 BUDGET, HELD ON MARCH 27, 2018.

OPENING REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, HIS EXCELLENCY, (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, CON, MBBS, AT THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY PUBLIC HEARING ON THE 2018 BUDGET, HELD ON MARCH 27, 2018.

 

PROTOCOL.

 

1. It is my pleasure to welcome you all to the Joint National Public Hearing on the 2018 Budget. When the first joint session took place last year, the conclusion was indicative of our intention to make this an annual event, and we are keeping to that resolve.

 

2. In the 8th National Assembly, we believe that the citizens, who we represent, are critical stakeholders in nation building. We promised, and were the first Nigerian legislature to make the civil society part of the budget process through the institutionalization of the Public Hearing process as part of the Budget process. For the first time, civil society has a voice at the table, with regard to the Budget. Public Hearing on the Budget as part of the enactment process, has come to stay.

 

3. It is with that in mind that this forum has been designed to bring together civil society and non-governmental organisations, as well as thought-leaders in the online and social media circle – and, of course, the Executive and Legislature – as an interactive session on the public Budget.

 

4. Distinguished Guests, you will recall that the National Assembly started its consideration of the 2018 Budget as soon as it was presented by Mr. President. In line with our commitments to making the enactment process more transparent and inclusive, as earlier described, this interactive session is intended to enable us to consider fresh opinions, explore other dimensions and weigh new perspectives on the 2018 Federal Budget proposal.

 

5. Unlike the maiden edition held on the 13th of February last year – when we considered the 2017 Appropriations Bill – this two-day session affords participants the platform to engage – not only on the details of the Appropriations Bill – but also on the underlying assumptions driving the Budget revenue, which we believe are critical for a successful implementation of the Budget.

 

6. As you may be aware, in our interrogation of the 2018 Budget proposal, we have chosen to place more emphasis on getting our revenue projections right. The importance of setting realistic revenue targets, and achieving them, cannot be overemphasised – especially as revenue performance has tended to fall below targets in the past.

 

7. Moreover, we are concerned about Government-Owned Enterprises whose operating surpluses have always been significantly lower than projections. Invariably, over the years, the performance of independent revenues has fallen short by at least 50 per cent. While we work towards setting new performance standards for government corporations as well as developing stronger oversight frameworks to improve performance in independent revenues, we do expect more realistic projections of Corporations operating surpluses.

 

8. It is also observable that non-oil revenue performances have been impacted by policy inconsistencies and leakages. Thus, in addition to our call for improved systems and processes to plug revenue leakages, we had required that the 2018 Budget proposal be accompanied by a 2018 Finance Bill (which has so far not been received by the National Assembly). Let me therefore use this opportunity to, once again, emphasise the need for the Finance Bill. We want government to show clarity and consistency in its policies and to see how these will square up to its financial projections for 2018.

 

9. We acknowledge Nigeria’s huge infrastructural deficit, as well as the need to expand planned expenditure. However, you will agree with me that, while it is important to achieve equity and balance in the spread of development projects around the country, we must also prioritise human capital development. It is in this vein that the National Assembly will prioritise expenditure on critical health and education facilities as well as soft infrastructure.

 

10. Furthermore, we must ensure an adherence to the 1% resolution to health. This requires the Basic Health Fund to be funded by 1% of the Consolidated National Fund. This funding, which amounts to 86 billion naira, has yet to be committed. When the Speaker and I met with Bill Gates last week, the emphasis was on health, and it is something we should take very seriously indeed, especially as the 1% resolution would go a long way in boosting basic maternal and child health immunisation services as well as local and rural community health in this country.

 

11. In addition, there is the need to ensure real value-for-money in government spending as well as prioritise spending on locally made goods. The Made-in-Nigeria initiative, with particular regard to government procurements, is already the thrust of a significant law passed by the 8th National Assembly – and which has the added advantage of helping to revamp our industrial base. This is one sure way of creating opportunities for local entrepreneurs, encouraging private sector partnerships and creating jobs, especially for the youth.

 

12. As a legislature, we are acutely aware that modern democratic lawmaking requires the deliberate engagement of the people; and that issues that matter most to the people should form the core objective of parliament. And so, for the first time, the National Assembly is becoming the People’s Parliament – where all shades of opinions are ventilated and experts are also able to have the space to contribute to the fashioning of solutions that will endure.

 

 

13. It is therefore my firm belief that, with your inputs and contributions at this Public Hearing, the 2018 Budget will deliver the envisioned socio-economic benefits to Nigerians in an all-inclusive manner. That is why we strongly encourage stakeholders’ participation in the process, especially as it relates to the provision of public services and equitable distribution of social benefits.

 

14. I urge everyone to feel free and be constructive in our submissions, as this will not only enhance the outcome of this interactive session but engender the attainment of the development interest of Nigerians.

 

15. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, let me assure you that your suggestions will be carefully considered and utilised in ensuring that we pass a Budget that addresses our core development needs in a sustainable and inclusive manner.

 

16. I wish you fruitful deliberations, as I formally declare open this Joint Public Hearing, to the greater development and prosperity of Nigeria.

 

Thank you.

PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE

 

 

KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, CON, MBBS, AT THE SENATE ROUNDTABLE ON MIGRATION AND HUMAN TRAFFICKING IN NIGERIA, HELD IN BENIN CITY, EDO STATE ON FEBRUARY 26, 2018

KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, CON, MBBS, AT THE SENATE ROUNDTABLE ON MIGRATION AND HUMAN TRAFFICKING IN NIGERIA, HELD IN BENIN CITY, EDO STATE ON FEBRUARY 26, 2018.

 

PROTOCOL.

 

1. Let me extend warm greetings to everyone here, especially my distinguished colleagues in the Senate, representatives of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), our international partners, dignitaries, speakers and invited guests. You are all welcome to the Senate Roundtable on Migration and Human Trafficking in Nigeria, a Two-Day discourse starting today in Benin City, Edo State.

 

2. The theme centres on Irregular Migration – which some refer to as Illegal Migration – and Human Trafficking; two issues that have become a bane of our existence as a nation. Nigeria currently ranks 23 on the Global Slavery Index of 167 countries with the highest number of slaves. Human trafficking is third in the ignoble hierarchy of the commonly occurring crimes in Nigeria, according to UNESCO.

 

3. Irregular migration has been a disastrous development for our continent; and the stark realisation becomes even more so, when we narrow the focus to Nigeria – which accounts for the world’s highest number of irregular migrants going through the Agadez Route. Our citizens represent the fifth largest number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea into Europe; and the number of females arriving in Italy alone increased 600-fold in just three years.

 

4. And what of those who perish along the way – who are sucked into the void between the desert and the raging sea and are never seen again? 10,000 Nigerians are estimated to have lost their lives on the perilous journey in five months of last year alone. We have seen the bleak images of coffins of 26 Nigerian girls who were laid to rest in Italy last November. And while media attention is often focused on those rescued at sea or washed up along Europe’s shores, United Nations’ estimates suggest that more migrants die crossing the Sahara than the Mediterranean. This is human tragedy on a colossal scale, and to reel off the statistics is to recite a litany to doomed youth.

 

5. That is what brings us today to ancient Benin, throne of kings, a centre of culture and home to one of the greatest artistic traditions in the world – which gave us the 16th century Mask of Queen Idia, the imperishable icon of FESTAC ’77. That is the Benin we know and revere. But today, there is disquiet in the land. His Excellency Governor Godwin Obaseki declared earlier this month that the irregular migration of Edo citizens had reached ‘epidemic proportions’ – pointing out that 10,000 persons had been traffickedin one year, and 3,000 lost their lives during the same period. The trafficking of young males has overtaken females in this state for the first time, and now stands at 63 per cent.

 

6. I thank Governor Obaseki for his determined leadership in the face of the crisis, and for being our gracious host for this Roundtable. Recognition or acknowledgement of a problem is a crucial step in seeking solution, because in that way, we banish denial. Nor can we be in denial of the fact that this is something that affects many Nigerian communities. It would be illusory to think that this is a problem for Edo State alone; it is a Nigerian problem. Young people all over the country are entranced by the lure of life abroad, and it appears many are willing to risk their lives for it. It is our expectation, therefore, that this Roundtable will serve as a springboard to efforts to stem the tide.

 

7. The Roundtable is intended to draw attention to the situation, to give confidence to our people and to let them know that we are troubled by this. We are losing sleep over irregular migration and human trafficking; and we are determined, as representatives of the people, to do something about it.

 

8. Therefore, this summit should help identify how legislation – which is the primary function of the National Assembly – and policy – a joint responsibility – can be brought to bear in addressing the problem. The irregular migration of Africans to faraway countries – especially in the Western hemisphere – is not new, but it has assumed a much more worrying dimension in recent times. And Nigerians seem to lead the ignominious pack. Of asylum applications rejected by European countries since 2011, Nigerians accounted for nearly 100,000 – almost three times the number of any other African country.

 

9. Even more alarming is the spectre of human trafficking – and worst of all, the enslavement of Africans, including Nigerians, in some countries. Who can forget 21-year-old Victor, who told CNN in one viral video that he was sold into slavery while in transit? “I spent my life savings leaving the country,” he narrated. Ponder that for a moment, if you will; many Nigerians waste funds that could have been ploughed into profitable enterprise, in the quest for an ever shifting horizon. Victor is symbolic of the best of us, being lost to the desert and the sea in their search for what they think is a better life. It no longer seems appropriate to call this a Brain Drain; rather, it is the lifeblood of Africa draining away.

 

10. And you wonder… why? This Roundtable is designed to help answer some of the niggling questions. To identify root causes and the various dimensions of the problem, as well as areas where legislation and policy can be used – in the short term – to stem the outward flow of our people; and – in the long term – to see how Nigeria and the rest of the world can collaborate to reduce the damage to national economies, societies and the global economy.

 

11. I should say that the particular impetus behind this initiative by the Senate, lies in disturbing images of thousands and thousands of Africans, including a large number of Nigerians, imperiling life, limb and liberty in the hope of attaining a dream that is often more myth than reality. It is time to lay bare the mirage that tricks young, able-bodied, energetic and potentially productive Africans like Victor into leaving the relative certainty of the fatherland. We must drive home the message that they are undertaking these highly uncertain and risky journeys for countries where, even if they get there, they will likely live wretched, subterranean lives as fugitives from the law. The irregular migrant’s desperate dreams are often not realisable. It is a pipe dream.

 

12. As you might imagine, the media images have shocked the leadership of this country and indeed the whole of Africa; and it would be irresponsible and a betrayal of the people’s trust if no action is taken to reverse the trend. As we have seen, the immediate response of the Nigerian government has been to commence the repatriation of our citizens stranded in countries such as Libya, and many are now back on Nigerian soil. We must commend the initiative of President Muhammadu Buhari, who moved swiftly to come to the aid of citizens marooned in foreign lands, and prioritised their return.

 

13. And yet, in spite of those images that show in no uncertain terms what befell many that went before, we have reports that thousands are still willing to take a chance on the same deadly route. The question we then have to ask is: what is the spur to these dangerous odysseys?

 

14. We have lost too many young people who have died in the desert and in the sea on these unpredictable treks.

 

15. We have lost too many young people who would otherwise have found productive lives in their home country.

 

16. And have we not lost our dignity as a people, watching our freeborn citizens sold as slaves in lands that are themselves teetering on the brink?

 

17. We have had to endure the trauma of a history we thought ended two centuries ago with the abolition of the slave trade. A history we thought we would never see repeat itself. A history of the enslavement of our people by outsiders. And the bitter irony of that history – whereas Black Africans were forcibly taken across the seas during the Transatlantic Slave Trade, we now have the absurdity of youths wilfully walking into bondage.

 

18. We must therefore ask ourselves some searching questions. For one, how has it become such an easy option for thousands of young females born into proud and civilised cultures to find their ways into prostitution and other forms of crimes, as well as dehumanised existence in other countries? How is it that they drag Nigeria’s image into disrepute and put themselves in harm’s way in one go?

 

19. Are the answers to be found in an economy that does not sufficiently address the needs and aspirations of young people? Or in the erosion of societal values and the enthronement of greed, immediate gratification and the worship of money? Or is it the failure of community leaders to exercise the responsibility bestowed on them by our culture?

 

20. Additionally, we should ask whether the Nigerian state has not failed its citizens. Why is it so easy for huge numbers of young Nigerians to leave home, go through borders illegally, enter other nations’ borders, and cross those borders without being detected or prevented? Clearly, something is wrong in the way we manage citizens’ security, border security as well as international cooperation and collaboration.

 

21. We are not comforted by the international community raising alarm about the large numbers of our citizens within their borders. While Nigeria should collaborate with destination countries, we should also join in undertaking a mutual enquiry as to whether those nations themselves do not compound the problem with some of their policies. We make bold to ask our international partners: what have you done and what are the sincere and humane steps taken to bring an end to this crisis? You certainly can do more to collaborate with us because whether we like it or not, you also have a responsibility in this matter. We have seen international summits on Syria, for example. But what we are seeing here is also worthy of international intervention. This is a silent holocaust of African humanity unfolding, and it cannot be allowed to go on. It simply cannot be allowed to go on.

 

22. I must stress, however, that this is not a blame game. The idea is to collaborate in a responsible manner, to make certain that agencies in Africa, Europe and the wider world are not failing in their duty on this issue. Let me make it abundantly clear that Nigeria is willing to collaborate with all countries of the world on irregular migration. With our international partners, we should be able to work out a carrot-and-stick approach that gives our people the incentive to stay on the continent and strive. Every human being deserves his or her own place in the sun – and for many, that place in the sun is here, in Africa – but they have to stay in order to find it.

 

23. Awaiting repatriation, Victor lamented to CNN: “The problem is, how I am going to start again?” As policy makers, we must have a reassuring response to Victor’s plaintive enquiry. Naturally, we recognise that part of the solution is to evolve an economy that would make it less tempting for young people to leave. It is also important to try and examine whether we can adopt constructive, innovative strategies and policies with countries that receive large numbers of irregular migrants. We commend the initiative of countries that are actively involved in looking for solutions and options that include skills acquisition, education as well as laws legalising the stay of some Nigerians in their jurisdictions.

 

24. Above all, we as Nigerians need to take a hard look at ourselves. We need to reexamine our value systems and ask some very difficult questions, because clearly, poverty alone cannot account for this debacle. Without holding excuses for government, let us reason with ourselves as Nigerians. Is our economy worse than that of Burkina Faso, Chad or some other countries out there? However bad we think the situation is, surely there are some things that we, as a people, would not want to be associated with?

 

25. Communities and leaders at all levels must therefore come together to find solutions to what appears to be a total collapse of the value system that once placed premium on hard work, respect for the law and perseverance in the search for lawful means. In spite of our limitations, Nigeria is a great country, and in no shape or form should our people be leaving in the thousands via irregular routes on the plea of poverty or insecurity.

 

26. In closing, let me set out what I think are the main goals of this Roundtable, and these are:

 

i. To improve collaboration between the Nigerian state and other countries on irregular migration;

 

ii. To put a stop to human trafficking, an aberration and an assault on our standing as a civilised nation;

 

iii. To improve legislation and policy in the longer term, so as to put in place effective mechanisms for arresting the twin scourge;

 

iv. To see to ways of improving funding and other support to MDAs including the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), in order to increase their capacity for tackling the culprits; the deterrence, reorientation and rehabilitation of victims; as well as greater synergy between relevant authorities;

 

v. To facilitate and fast-track all pending treaties and agreements that are necessary to put in place, in order to effectively deal with this issue; and

 

vi. To ginger our international partners to meet us halfway, and come up with incentives that will encourage more Africans to opt for legal migration – for example, through more embracing and creative visa regimes, as well as other workable initiatives.

 

27. Whilst we are seeking an end to human trafficking and modern day slavery, we as Nigerians must look inward in our everyday lives and take steps to eradicate every semblance of domestic trafficking and slavery in our midst. Big changes begin with the seemingly little ones.

 

28. And, for the sake of our people caught in the vortex of illegal migration and its evils, we must not relent. The cry of #BlackLivesMatter has reverberated throughout the world. These ones too, who are trekking into bondage or death, are also black lives – and we must begin to trumpet the affirmation here in Nigeria that their lives matter, too – by taking decisive action that will lead to a significant reversal of these unfortunate trends.

 

29. Timing is a very crucial factor here; and so, permit me to sound an additional note of urgency on this matter. I believe we have a window of about six months to get something done – before the polity is taken over by politicking ahead of the next general election. Let us seize the moment, and take the opportunity for action on the subject of this summit.

 

30. Do we promise that illegal migration and human trafficking will stop immediately after this Roundtable? No one can promise that. However, with you and us and the support and cooperation of our international partners, we can give hope to Nigerians that – Yes – there is a government that exists and cares for the people. The solution needs all of us, coming together with a common purpose. Together, we can do this.

Thank you all very much.

 

THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE

 

OPENING REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY DR. ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, CON, MBBS, ON THE OCCASION OF A ONE DAY PUBLIC HEARING BY THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON INTERIOR ON FOUR PRISON REFORM BILLS ON THURSDAY FEBRUARY 15TH, 2018

OPENING REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY DR. ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, CON, MBBS, ON THE OCCASION OF A ONE DAY PUBLIC HEARING BY THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON INTERIOR ON FOUR PRISON REFORM BILLS ON THURSDAY FEBRUARY 15TH, 2018.

 

PROTOCOL,

 

1. It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to this Public Hearing organized by The Senate Committee on Interior on four Bills which are of significant importance to the reformation of our Prison services nation wide. The Bills for consideration are:

i. AN ACT TO AMEND THE PRISONS ACT CAP P. 29 LAWS OF THE FEDERATION OF NIGERIA, 2004 AND ENACT THE NIGERIAN PRISONS AND CORRECTIONAL SERVICE BILL TO MAKE PROVISIONS FOR THE ADMINISTRATION OF PRISONS IN NIGERIA AND OTHER RELATED MATTERS, 2017.

ii. AN ACT TO AMEND THE PRISONS ACT CAP P. 29 LAWS OF THE FEDERATION OF NIGERIA, 2004 TO PROVIDE FOR A MOTHER AND BABY UNIT FOR THE CARE OF FEMALE PRISONERS WHO ARE NURSING MOTHERS AND THIER BABIES AND FOR RELATED MATTERS

 

iii. NIGERIAN PRISONS AND CORRECTIONAL SERVICES ACT, 2016.

iv. CORRECTION, REFORMATION AND REINTERGRATING CENTRE (ESTABLISHMENT) BILL, 2018.

 

2. The dilapidated state of our prisons demonstrates a condition that cannot guarantee the reformation the prison process should have on inmates. The current state of disrepair decay of infrastructure, intra institutional culture and worrying outcomes we all witness today from our prison service have made reform of the institutional regulatory and legal structures imperative. Our prison sector remains a very key public institution for the rehabilitation and reformation of individuals in breach of our ethos and criminal justice process.

 

3. A recent survey by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics shows that there are about 70,000 in mates with over 80 percent awaiting trials. These figures I believe can be reduced drastically if all arms of government work together to bring a more efficient prison system in Nigeria. As legislators, we will continue to use the legislative process to make laws that will create a more organized public sector.

 

4. The prison system, which ideally should have been solely for correction of prison inmates through counselling, rehabilitations and reform of inmates, has today, become a breeding ground for hardened criminals who become worse than they were when they got into prison. This could be attributed to the over emphasis on punishment as against rehabilitation by the Act establishing the prison system.

 

5. The four Bills slated for consideration today was well received by the Senate when it was read a second time during plenary. I thank the Sponsors of this Bills, Senator Shaba Lafiagi, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, Senator Babajide Omoworare and Senator Gershom Bassey. Their persuasive debate and the content of the Bills are the reasons why we are all here.

 

6. On Tuesday February 13th, 2018, the Senate Leadership received members of the National Committee on Prisons Reform. In our engagement, we agreed that there is a lot of work to be done and that it would need a lot of collaboration between the legislature and interested parties to ensure a comprehensive prisons reform in Nigeria.

 

7. Going forward from that meeting, I believe that we need a new approach to prisons decongestion. It is a national scandal that many prisons are overcrowded by up to 90 percent. Urgent new measures should be put in place to speedily decongest prisons not only in the interest of justice but to save cost for prisons maintenance and enhance the welfare of prisoners.

8. I commend the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Interior, Senator Andy Uba and other members of the Committee for ensuring that today’s Public Hearing takes place. The experience of the legislators in this committee gives all of us the right confidence that they will handle this task thoroughly.

 

9. I also thank the invited stakeholders and all who have come from far and near for this Public Hearing. It is a testament to how much we all need to improve the quality of the prison system in the country. Let me state it clearly that the Senate is yet to take a position on any of these Bills. Therefore, your contributions will go a long way in adding substance and acceptance to the content of the Bills.

 

10. I sincerely believe that with the collective wisdom of everyone seated here, we can deliver a legal framework that will finally make our prisons rehabilitation centers in tandem with the best global practices.

 

 

 

11. On this note, I hereby declare today’s Public Hearing open.

 

PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE

 

 

 

 

 

ADDRESS BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, MBBS, CON, AT THE 9TH MEETING OF CLERKS OF THE NIGERIAN LEGISLATURES, HELD IN CONFERENCE HALL NO. 231, SENATE NEW BUILDING, ABUJA, ON FEBRUARY 9, 2018.

ADDRESS BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, MBBS, CON, AT THE 9TH MEETING OF CLERKS OF THE NIGERIAN LEGISLATURES, HELD IN CONFERENCE HALL NO. 231, SENATE NEW BUILDING, ABUJA, ON FEBRUARY 9, 2018.

PROTOCOL.

1. Let me on behalf of the Senate and the entire 8th National Assembly welcome you all to the National Assembly and to Abuja for the 9th Meeting of Clerks of the Nigerian Legislatures. I note that the objective of this meeting is, amongst others, to promote interactions between Clerks of the National and State Houses of Assembly, to enhance effective and efficient service delivery; and also to review the experiences of various levels of legislatures since the advent of the 8th Assembly in 2015. This is very welcome, for this kind of self-assessment can only make for greater efficiency and cohesiveness in the administrative engines that power the legislature at various levels.

2. I understand that the Conference of Clerks of Nigerian Legislature, as an initiative, started in 2005 – but the meetings have not been consistent over the years. It is hoped that every effort will be made to ensure regular conferences of this august gathering going forward. This is clearly an initiative that needs to be sustained. Not only does it afford administrators of Nigerian parliaments the opportunity to examine and redesign strategies for improving parliamentary administration and developing the associated support services – it is also a platform for energising the sustainability of Nigeria’s fledgling legislative democracy.

3. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, you will agree with me that your role as administrators of Nigerian Parliaments – especially as Chief Executive Officers in an environment dominated by political figures who may, at times, show a predilection for engaging in partisan and interest trade-offs – is not only challenging but can be frustrating, particularly if one is not pre-disposed or strategically primed for dealing with such.

4. It is clear that, compared with counterparts in older democracies around the world, our parliaments here in Nigeria may be described as being in the pubescent stage of democratic development. This has manifested itself in the occasional, constitutionally questionable and non-procedural manoeuvres, as well as overzealous actions or inactions that do not necessarily portray our democracy in the best light. Let me quickly issue a disclaimer on behalf of the 8thNational Assembly in this respect – we do take care to be constitutionally proper, always! Nonetheless, regular educative gatherings such as this one, can easily help to correct any unwarranted unparliamentary eruptions, especially when they are guided by seasoned administrators.

5. It is quite impressive that between 1999 to date, the National Assembly has recorded remarkable achievements, not only in performing its legislative responsibilities but also in the administration of parliament and managing political representatives. It is my expectation that we can build upon these achievements by replicating the best practices – the things that have been done well – in the State Houses of Assembly.

6. At this juncture, let me make an observation, that: after 17 years of legislative democracy, we ought to have started organising a National Conference of Nigerian Legislatures (NCNL) akin to the National Conference of State Assemblies (NCSA) in the United States of America. This would be a platform for senior administrative and legislative Officers of Nigerian parliaments to come together to share experience, and deliberate on ways of improving support services rendered to legislators. While this might seem new in the Nigerian political terrain, I assure you that it is a fairly common practice in developed democracies. It would be perfectly in order, therefore, for us to aspire to that level of democratic leverage in our environment.

7. I am aware that there are serious complaints of political intrusion in administrative matters. This is an anomaly that we as politicians discuss continually during legislative workshops and seminars, including meetings of Presiding Officers. I believe that with time, such distractions will be a thing of the past. Let me assure you that we are committed to making this legislative democracy work, not only because we have the opportunity and the people’s mandate to be here, but more importantly because our people and the country will be better off for it.

8. I should not fail to mention that, in as much as we are striving to achieve independence for Nigerian legislatures, there is compelling and complementary need for the independence of the administrative structure of the legislature. All the more reason why the bureaucracy will have to develop its own resource centres manned by professionals from divergent fields, who would be able to provide reliable information and data as may be required by parliament and parliamentarians, in order to adequately and effectively perform their legislative responsibilities.

9. I thank the management of the National Assembly for organising and hosting this conference, and also for giving me an opportunity to share some ideas. I wish you successful deliberations.


THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE

#SecuritySummit: Remarks by the President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, at the Summit on National Security, Held at NAF Conference Center, Abuja.

#SecuritySummit: Remarks by the President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, at the Summit on National Security, Held at NAF Conference Center, Abuja.

PROTOCOLS.
 
1.         You are welcome to the Summit on National Security, a 2-Day dialogue convened as a matter of national urgency. We are here because, in the face of escalating threats to the peace and security of our dear country, it becomes necessary to put heads together, share ideas and map out strategies to see us out of the current predicament.
 
2.         The coming together of the Executive and Legislative arms of government for this discussion about security, is a pointer to the seriousness of the situation, and our determination to tackle the problem. The Summit is also unique, because never before have we had such an inclusive platform for appraising security-related matters in this country.
 
3.         If I may provide some background: it will be recalled that the Senate had, on 30th of November 2017, inaugurated the Ad-Hoc Committee on Review of Security Infrastructure in the Country. This came about, because we were increasingly concerned at the spate of crises and insecurity in many parts of the country, and knew that we needed to do something about it. The Committee had a broad mandate; to look into the problem and prepare a report outlining a different approach for dealing with the issue.
 
4.         The spike in the bloodletting over the New Year period injected another note of urgency into the matter, and further served to augment the mandate of the Committee, whose members suspended their recess to conduct a fact-finding visit to Benue State, scene of one of the recent killings. From that visit on 12th January 2018, the Committee had a report ready for the Senate upon resumption on 16th January. It was on the back of that, that we passed the Resolution to organise this Summit – to review the entire security architecture of the country. I would like to thank the members of the Committee – Chaired by Senate Leader, Distinguished Senator Ahmed Lawan – for their hard work and commitment to this national assignment, and the expedient manner in which they discharged their functions.
 
5.         The sharp increase in murderous violence, over and above the relatively manageable level of insecurity that has plagued our country for some time, jolted us out any last vestiges of complacency or denial. There can be no denying the horrific reality in many parts of our country today. People who should be neighbours are turning on one another and taking up arms. These attacks and reprisal attacks are an intolerable cycle of hell that must be broken. Killings, kidnappings, mayhem and general lawlessness cannot be the new normal. We must take this country back and restore order.
 
6.         To this end, the Summit brings together a wide spectrum of stakeholders including: political leaders; security policy makers; Governors – who are Chief Security Officers in their states; security and intelligence chiefs; key persons in the nation’s security architecture; regional and socio-cultural groups; traditional rulers; civil society organisations (CSOs) and others with strong, persuasive insights into the problem.
 
7.   It was envisaged that the Summit would provide a platform for critically examining the problem of insecurity, to help collate views and ideas in aid of the search for solutions. It is most reassuring to see us all here – people together – coming together to come up with a national response to a grave problem confronting our nation.
 
8.         To the Executive, I say this: you cannot do it alone – and this is why we are all here to join efforts. It is all hands on deck. No one person, organisation or arm of government can single-handedly tackle the hydra-headed monster of insecurity. The Constitution makes it clear that the safety of lives and property of citizens is the responsibility of government. We in government must therefore do everything in our power to ensure that Nigerians are safe from harm, and their livelihoods and belongings protected.
 
9.         Permit me to observe that those who are in this room have the capacity to bring about a change in this situation, to end the violence and bring succour. We have the capacity. But, do we have the political will? I daresay political will is what is required; and it is my hope that we shall marshal it as a legitimate instrument against this problem. Indeed, there is no reason why that should not be the case. This is not a Summit to trade blames – in no way is this a blame game. Neither is it convened so that any person or entity can take credit. We just want solutions. Solutions only. That is all Nigerians require of us.
 
10.   Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, it is expected that at the end of our deliberations and submissions, we will have a more profound understanding of the nature of the crisis; as well as a realistic assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of our security assets. We should also have a more accurate assessment of challenges to the current disposition of the Nigerian state – through the level of preparedness of all its law and order agencies to security threats.
 
11.   Let me add that this Summit should help us achieve some consensus around what needs to be done, in the short term as well as in the long term, to bring comfort and relief to those affected, and assurances of security throughout the country.
 
12.   Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, we would have failed in our responsibility if – by the end of this Summit – we didn’t succeed in triggering higher levels of collaboration and cooperation among all stakeholders, of a character that can be sustained and placed at the service of the nation. This spirit of collaboration and cooperation is, therefore, key.
 
13.   The Summit programme has been designed to allow full and unfettered discussion. All participants are therefore encouraged to be forthright in expressing their views, and show commitment to the need for solution. Let me reiterate that we are not here to indict anybody. This is not an indictment, it is not to lay blame or point fingers, and it is not to take credit for what goes well. This process is very much solutions-driven. In order for us to ameliorate the current difficulties, therefore, it is important that people speak frankly.
 
14.   In that vein, let me say to those who will make contributions during the sessions: please, do not be on the defensive. Nobody is on trial here. Let us make our submissions with openness, in good faith and with an attitude that is forward-looking. When all is said and done, this is a worthy exercise, for the good of Nigeria, and we should all strive to do our best, – and that work begins at this Summit.
 
15.   What our country needs at this time is leadership that will work to douse the flames and reduce tension in the land. It is essential that we lower the barriers in our actions and rhetoric, and refrain from playing politics with a crisis situation in which Nigerian lives are being lost, tragically and needlessly, on a regular basis.
 
16.   Let me extend our deepest gratitude to His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, for his and the Executive’s support towards the convening of this Summit. Appreciation also goes to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, for the cooperation that brought the entire 8th National Assembly on board for this Summit.
 
17.   The kind of collaborative and joined-up working that should be an example to Nigerians, is already on display here; and it is hoped that we shall use this as a springboard for the success of this Summit, the outcome of which must be such as can feed into the search for a solution.
 
Thank you all.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria
 
 
THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE

Keynote Address by Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, at the Georgetown Africa Business Conference 2018 (GTABC2018). Washington D.C., USA.

PROTOCOLS.

  1. A very good morning to you all. Let me start by thanking the organizers of the Georgetown Africa Business Conference for the opportunity to be part of this conversation, which I see as crucial to the social and economic development of Africa. My thanks also to Banze Nadia Ilunga, the GTABC Head of Content, for inviting me to deliver this keynote address on ‘The African Value Chain: Harnessing Local Talent and Opportunity’. It was important for me to come and share ideas with like minds, not least because Georgetown’s active promotion of dialogue across communities – as well as its fostering of greater understanding in the world – have become that much more central to achieving peace and development in today’s world.

 

  1. Permit me to observe that our gathering is in some way a reflection of the changing attitudes towards the continent. It used to be the case that when those in the West thought of Africa, all they conjured up were images of conflicts, epidemics and despots. While we still have reports of conflicts and outbreak of disease on CNN, BBC and Al-Jazeera, we also now have programs like ‘Inside Africa’, ‘African Voices’, ‘Marketplace Africa’, and ‘Africa Business Report’– that showcase entrepreneurial acuity, talent and innovation.

 

  1. Some of us can still recall, with the obligatory shake of the head, the cover story of The Economistof March 11, 2000, with the title ‘Hopeless Africa’ – in which the magazine concluded that ‘for reasons rooted in their culture’, Africans cannot escape conflicts, corruption and disease. Remarkably, a decade later, the magazine carried another cover story, this time in its December 3, 2011 edition, with the bold header, ‘The Hopeful Continent: Africa Rising’ – in an apparent volte face. That effervescent phrase, ‘Africa Rising’, has been with us since.

 

  1. Another interesting dimension to the Africa Rising narrative is that much of what is celebrated as economic growth on the continent was in fact serendipitous. Because much of Africa still relies on commodity exports, we are able to make a connection between its economic growth and the rise in global commodity exports, rather than any new thinking or deliberate planning.

 

  1. I tend to align with those who reject this notion of Africa as a piggy-backer on the global economy as rather simplistic – especially given the remarkable political and social transformation that the continent had undergone by the end of the last century. Democratization and the more accountable governance system that comes with it, promote a way of thinking and doing things, which in turn create more conducive environments for business and investments. It was hardly a coincidence, therefore, that the Africa Rising mantra emerged about the time that almost all the countries of Africa had embraced constitutional democracy as the only legitimate form of government.

 

  1. I believe, however, that this kind of skepticism is healthy. It forces us to continue to interrogate the markers of our growth, what it means, what policy options it places before us and what choices we must make if economic development is to yield real dividends for the people, and address the social and economic challenges that we face.
  2. That said, there are many indicators that assure us of the possibilities for taking African business prospects to the next level, but that is if we can grab and maximize the opportunities. This conference is therefore very much in the moment. The IMF has also reported an annual growth rate of 7% for 10 African countries, including some like Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Mozambique that had only recently suffered the trauma of conflicts and natural disasters. However, the grim reality is that about the time that my country Nigeria was celebrating itself as the largest economy on the continent with a GDP of USD 509.9 billion, the combined GDP of all the 54 African countries was almost equal to that of India alone. And it is important to note that only about 100,000 individuals account for 80% of Africa’s GDP. The GDP of the 46 Sub-Saharan Africa, including South Africa is about the same as that of Belgium or Chicago. Our share of global trade still hovers around 3% and Africa is only able to attract 5% of global FDI. This is not to say that we have not made progress but I see this as opportunity not yet available. The point here however is that in the context of the overall global economy, this progress amounts to very little or nothing. This is why it matters very much that economic development must not be something that happens to Africa. It must be something that is envisioned and deliberately planned to reflect the African worldview and the African condition. It must be that which puts our people at the very centre of our development agenda both as agents and agencies. It must be that which responsibly exploits and harnesses Africa’s resources to the benefit of the majority of her people, especially the youth.

 

  1. Africa is home to about 1.3 billion people and her population is expected to double by 2050, a mere three decades away. More than half of these would be between 18 and 35. This has been described as a great demographic opportunity that is unique to Africa. While the average age in Europe is 45; for Africa, it the scale tips to the side of the twenty-somethings. A large youth population such as ours means a huge market in terms of consumption, services and labor. However, for Africa to benefit from the demographic dividends that a massive youth population offers, we must make the right investments in quality higher education and create the right conditions and opportunities for entrepreneurship and employment. No African country can do this alone. A large market is only useful when the people have the necessary purchasing power; and a huge population is only an asset when it is productive. My country, Nigeria, is already a population powerhouse, the largest in Africa and the seventh in the world. Our population currently stands at 180 million and it has been rising at the rate of 2.7% since 2010. The UN predicts that Nigeria will close in on the 300 million people mark by the year 2050 – overtaking the United States as the third most populous country on earth.

 

  1. Now, while it seems everyone in Nigeria views oil as the focus, it is actually not true – oil accounts for less than 15% of the GDP. Nigeria’s true asset is its teeming population, of which the youth demographic is surging forward. The anticipated youth-driven economic growth will be unprecedented and unbeatable, but it will only happen if we can harness the latent talent of the growing population. The golden population of youth will fulfil its destiny for the benefit of Africa and the world at large only if it is empowered, educated, better skilled and better prepared for the opportunities ahead.

 

  1. Speaking of the present time, Africa’s share of global trade still hovers around a paltry 3%, and we are only able to attract 5% of global FDI. A large youth population such as translates into a huge market in terms of consumption, services and labor. However, for Africa to reap the demographic dividends, we must make the right investments in quality higher education and create the right conditions and opportunities for entrepreneurship and employment. A large market is only useful when the people have the necessary purchasing power; and a huge population is only an asset when it is productive.
  2. As Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), said: “If Africa has the youngest population, what do we do with the youth and how to develop their capacity to unlock their entrepreneurship? How does Africa take advantage of its diversity?” We should be asking ourselves whether government and private sector can hire the exponentially increased number by African youths by 2050. They are rising, they are hungry for success, and they want that success make an appreciable impact on their communities. All we as policy makers need do, is provide them with the enabling environment, the tools and skills needed.
  3. The 52ndAnnual Meeting of the African Development Bank Group which took place in Ahmedabad, India in May 2017, held that: “Africa needs to push for accelerated development by harnessing local resources to boost entrepreneurship and drive its industrialization.” What does this tell us? Big industries are all very well, but their survival depends on a good spread of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises. Not only do MSMEs serve as a good source of raw material, they are also – crucially – incubation centers for technological development. And here is the clincher: MSMEs are run by indigenous people – the local talent and opportunities we are seeking to harness.
  4. It is important, therefore, that African governments at all levels identify their areas of comparative advantage and build on them. In Agriculture, governments are becoming more attuned to the need to develop the value chain along the entire industry. Agro-Politan Development Strategyis now part of the sectorial lexicon. This simply refers to a strategy that provides multiple opportunities in Agriculture and Agri-Business – with emphasis on the localization of the entire value chain, namely: Plant-Process-Store-Package-Market-Sell. This is to ensure that Africans are fully involved in the Agricultural Value Chain.

 

  1. When we look at Nigeria, which is seeking to diversify its revenue base from over-reliance on oil, it becomes apparent that we are not even close to tapping into the Agricultural Value Chain to any sustainable degree. Available statistics show that the country is currently producing below the recommended quantities. Take Dairy products: Nigeria spends $480.3 million annually on milk importation, since local production only accounts for 34% of our needs – that is 1.7million tonnes – about 10 litres per person per capita. This is in comparison to the global average of 40litres per person. When we even come to Africa, the average is 28litres. Sadly, Nigeria is the lowest on the Milk food chain. Of our estimated 20 million cattle population, only 2.3 million are used to produce Dairy. Nigeria:

 

  1. In Poultry, our consumption per capita amounts to 1.41kg. And yet we consume 1.2 tonnes of Chicken annually, about 900, 000 metric tonnes of which are unfortunately smuggled in through our borders.  Our 1.41kg per capita is a poor second to Ghana’s 7.67kg/capita. South Africa stands at 32.98kg/capita; while Brazil and the USA are at 41.34kg and 45.49kg respectively.
  2. Or Rice, arguably the most talked about food item in Nigeria. Even the BBC had to declare that, “Rice is a big deal in Nigeria” – and believe me, it is. But what of the production of this staple food? We consume over 5.151 metric tonnes of Rice – consider the fact that 2.1 metric tonnes of that, is imported. And for two years in a row now, we are the world’s second largest importer of Rice, which really makes you wonder. Why? Well, because there is absolutely no reason why Nigeria should not be self-sufficient in this product – and even supply to other countries.

 

  1. I have often spoken of my experience with Shonga farms when I was Governor in Kwara State, when I invited white Zimbabwean farmers to come to the state. This encouraged me to believe in the power of Agriculture. And how, the likes of testing with got involved, Dangote is now investing massively in Rice production, among other things. I can predict that in the next five years, the largest produce is Dangote. Agriculture is no longer being left to the lone farmer. Africa is no longer a social event; it is being seen as a business venture.

 

  1. Like others have argued, there is really a need to devise an economic model that produces and manufactures primarily for the African market, and then use that as a basis to engage and negotiate with the rest of the world. The value chain approach is based on the philosophy of comparative advantage and economies of scale. Burdens and benefits are distributed to increase efficiency and productivity, while adding value. Developing the African Value Chain potentially positions the continent to increase the quality and quantity of its participation in the global economy.

 

  1. Some 60% of Africa’s involvement in the global value chain is limited to supplying raw materials and inputs for other countries’ exports production. It is time we recognised that any efforts to create jobs and improve the economic condition of our people must mainstream agriculture in a way that underlines value chain within Africa itself. Adopting the value chain approach will enable us to focus on areas of comparative and competitive advantage; clarify relationships among businesses within our continent; as well as adopt common policies that facilitate efficient production across borders. The global value chain as exemplified in ‘Factory Asia’, in which many Africans are active participants, can be replicated on our continent, but only if we are prepared to embrace a new way of thinking about ourselves, the challenges we face and the possible solutions.
  2. Another sector that provides value addition and comparative advantage is the Entertainment industry, which has grown tremendously over the last 20 years – especially in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa – as our artists have risen from local champions to global recognition. Nigerian musician Wizkid recently sold out London’s prestigious Royal Albert Hall, and is much sought after for collaborations with major American Music artists. Whilst interacting with Wizkid recently, he told me he ‘filled a stadium of 40,000’ in Gabon a French-speaking country where they didn’t understand a word of his lyrics; and he himself was astonished. The Shoki dance movement went from the back streets of Lagos to galactic heights in the music video of U.S. Hip-Hop artist, Missy Elliot. I remember in my younger days, if you went to a disco party in Nigeria, the deejay would play 100 per cent American RnB like Shalamar, The Whispers and Earth Wind and Fire. Now, no such thing. Nigerian musicians like Davido and Phyno are all the rage. My own kids listen to Nigerian musicians at their parties. I would never have thought in my lifetime that I would see this happen. We have come full circle. Our contemporary music industry, by the sheer dint of youthful creativity and innovation, has indigenized.  This is now creating new opportunities, new artists are springing up, new studios are coming onstream, records are being made, talents developed. As far as South Africa and beyond, Nigerian music is being played. When we were young, it used to be that you had to be a lawyer or an engineer, but now creativity is really changing the game.

 

  1. The same can be said of Nollywood, which is the second largest movie industry in the world; and is another bold example of people creating a value chain as though from nothing. When the first video feature in what would become known as Nollywood, a film called ‘Living in Bondage’ was released in the mid-90s, few could have imagined the huge industry it would spawn, but here we are today. Nollywood stars are known the world over, and the industry employs thousands of Nigerians. So influential are these stars that, when news spread recently a major Nollywood star had been cast in a small role in a Hollywood film, Marvel’s ‘Avengers: Infinity War’, Nigerians went wild. It turned out to be fake news, but maybe we are on to something. Marvel Studios, if you are listening, if you want an audience of millions in Africa for your upcoming film, then there is a casting decision you need to make.

 

  1. In fashion, Nigerian designers are now major players on international stage. Apart from the PR benefits, in real economic terms, the fashion industry holds a huge potential for job creation within the continent. The Commonwealth study mentioned earlier identified some key activities in the textile and clothing value chain. These include: design, component manufacture, which includes yarn, fabric, buttons, zippers and sundry accessories; assembly of finished garments, transport to the market, marketing and sales and distribution. If we scan through these, we would find that with exception of some categories of fabrics, almost all other inputs are imported into Africa. If we consider that in terms of mass sales, the Africa fashion designers are hardly exporting off-the-rack clothing lines to the global market, we may reach the conclusion that other economies outside the continent are deriving greater benefits from our homegrown talents than Africa itself. What would be really interesting to consider is how the African fashion industry has boosted the production of fabrics, buttons and zippers in China or Europe.

 

  1. Which brings me to the burgeoning tech hubs of Yaba in Lagos and Nairobi in Kenya; and the role of technology. Naturally, a continent with a fast growing population that enjoy good music, movies, media and content production – and are eager to pay in order to stay abreast of information concerning their social entertainment – would not take long to be a continent to reckon with. The advent of apps and entertainment platforms aided by strong broadband technology spearheaded by young African investors, took the industry to exponential heights. In Lagos, tech start-ups not only weathered the recession unscathed, they are attracting major seed funding, driving business growth and are impacting in every value chain imaginable, from agriculture to blood banks. We cannot say it enough that Nigeria has some of the most talented, hardworking and innovative young people in the world. This much was attested to by Mark Zuckerberg when he visited Nigeria some time ago. He said: “I was highly impressed by the talent of the youths in the Co-Creation Hub in Yaba. I was blown away by their talent and the level of energy.” Something tells me we have not even scratched the surface of what the movie industry alone can contribute to the economy of Nigeria and the entire African continent. All these would challenge us to plan and implement far reaching reform, especially in the higher education sub-sector, so as to ensure that our youths are market ready in the entire value chain of identified economic drivers; agriculture, construction, ICT, entertainment, sports and fashion industries.
  2. Nevertheless, the contribution of these new sectors like the telecommunications, entertainment and retail have been great pointers to what was possible if the policies were right and the general condition for investment is provided. Within 16 years of the liberalization of the telecommunication sector in Nigeria, tele-density has grown from less than 1% to 108%, making Nigeria one of the fastest growing telecommunications sectors in the world. Nigeria Telecommunication  Commission estimates that investments in the sector is now in excess of $68 billion and has contributed up to N15 trillion to the Federation Account. Perhaps, more importantly, the sector has created hundreds of thousands of career and ancillary jobs and has impacted directly in driving businesses and innovations in the ICT sub-sector. Explosion of the telecommunications economy in Nigeria is clear evidence of Nigeria’s huge market with a population of 170 million people, half of which are in the 15-35 age bracket category. Perhaps we are yet to fully estimate how much direct and indirect impact this single revolution has had in developing other economic sectors, including retail, business and commerce, banking and a lifestyle that has continued to expand opportunities for further investments in this sector. Regardless of the challenges that may exist, the liberalization of the telecommunications sector in Nigeria has changed lives, created millionaire and would remain a proud symbol of what is possible on our continent if we get it right. However, while it is encouraging that seven out of 10 Africans own a mobile phone it is worth highlight the fact that in Nigeria, for example, only 15.5 million own a smartphone – 23.3% of the population. Internet penetration is still less than half in the country; at 46.50%, it translates into 91.6 million of the populace.

 

  1. African governments must provide an enabling environment for the nurturing of raw talent. Our education system ought to move away from a theory based approach and paper certification to inculcating practical skills that support apprenticeship and boosts innovation and industry. This is the place of Vocational and Technical education which provides that the youth inculcate practical skills that will not only make them employable but will also help the continent in building an army of job providers

 

  1. Without doubt, the vision and philosophy of the African Union is for a continent whose strength and prosperity are based on greater cooperation and partnership among our various countries and peoples. We are still far from realizing the full vision of the Union, which includes a common currency and common Central Bank, among others. However, we need to demonstrate that we remain committed to achieving this vision no matter how long it takes.

 

  1. Speaking of challenges, there are quite a number of factors that militate against productivity in the short term. These include: infrastructural challenges, Insecurity, Power or the lack of it, Lack of Education, Lack of access of funds for MSMEs.

 

  1. A Commonwealth Office study found that it is more cost efficient for Tanzania to trade in agriculture and manufactured goods with United Kingdom and the United States than with fellow African nations like Ghana or Botswana. The overall report holds out hope for greater regional integration, while also highlighting some issues we must address for real progress to be made. Some of these are policy related, while others are infrastructural challenges. Existing tariff based barriers significantly hinder trading across the region. In developing a regional value chain perspective, it is critical that these barriers are removed, because fragmented production processes involved in value chain production implies multiple border crossing and can therefore amplify the effect of tariffs. Free trade and inter-regional trade agreements are crucial to keeping tariffs low, to increase participation in the development of a regional value chain.

 

  1. Therefore, the quality as well as absence of critical infrastructure across the continent, coupled with the geographical location of some countries, present an even more critical challenge to participating in the African Value Chain. As a result, many African countries are saddled with some of the highest trade costs on the planet. According to the 2015 World Bank Ease of Doing Business Report, the cost of exporting a standard 20-foot container is more than twelve times higher in Chad (US$6,600), six times higher in Rwanda (US$3,200) and three times higher in South Africa (US$1,532) than it is in China (US$500). While China enjoys economies of scale from shipping, it is important to note that it has also invested heavily in infrastructure.

 

  1. We must develop a very comprehensive regional trade agreement with deep integration measures, providing for non-tariff barriers to trade—including investment and competition policy, intellectual property protection, and dispute settlement—that can support value chain integration, in particular regional value chain integration.

 

  1. Governance issues around the trading systems around can also create significant encumbrances and add to cost. For many industries that rely on just-in-time production, delays and unpredictability can be as strong an impediment to participation as costs.  In many African countries, trading across borders is burdensome and costly, although there is wide variation between countries. According to the World Bank Doing Business indicators, it takes 51 days and requires seven documents to export a container from Zambia, 40 days and ten documents from Angola, and 26 days and six documents from Mali – but only 10 days and four documents from Morocco.

 

  1. The East African Community and South African Development Community (SADC) has achieved a significant reduction in barriers to trade, but generally across the continent, tariffs are still high and sometimes even higher than between Africa and other parts of the world. The UN Conference for Trade and Development in 2013 found that an African firm’s export outside of the continent faces an average protection rate of 2.5% while exporting the same goods to other African markets would gulp about 8.7%.

 

  1. In short, that the quality of Africa’s participation in the global value chain cannot improve unless we first achieve the development of the African value chain based on greater economic and social integration of Africa itself. Without the demonstrable commitment by African countries to think beyond their immediate borders, Africa will remain on the lower rung of the global production ladder, as our individual countries labour in vain to create conditions to enable participation in the global value chain. Let me emphasise that the exploitation of our continent does not become more acceptable simply because it is done by China, India or Brazil. It is visionless leadership that strips its own country of local content or indigenization laws to benefit foreign investors, but to the impoverishment of its citizens.

 

  1. The opportunity to integrate into any value chain is fostered by the ease, cost and reliability of international flow of goods and services. Therefore, African countries that are able to remove the main non-tariff barriers and make trade facilitation process faster, and more reliable, and cost less will be more successful in harnessing the opportunities in regional value chains.
  2. It is heartening to note that some serious efforts are already going on in this direction. The Lagos to Tangiers highway project; the Trans Sahara gas pipeline project, as well as the Chinese-backed railway projects that would connect East African countries, are all remarkable in many respects. We now have fast trains running between Ethiopia and Djibouti, moving people and cargo. It has reduced a journey of three days to just eight hours; and 3500 tonnes of cargo can now be moved from the port of Djibouti to the heart of Ethiopia within 10 hours. Before this project, it would take 70 trucks driving for up to four days to move the same quantity.
  3. It is important to note however that infrastructure in Africa today is still largely financed by government, with limited private sector participation.  Many of these infrastructures are therefore poorly managed. The massive upgrading of infrastructure that we need will also require us to develop and strengthen regulatory framework for procurement and public-private partnerships in infrastructure developments in addition to developing the capacity of relevant government agencies to manage these infrastructure contracts. In terms of planning, we also have to pay more attention to intra-regional connections and spatial planning. This is very important because increasing links between countries and between growth poles and growth secondary cities will unlock growth opportunities even between rural and urban areas.
  4. The value chain approach is also based on supply chain efficiency, which is aimed at lowering transaction cost, minimizing delays and reducing imbalances. Therefore, if we do not make the necessary investments in transportation and remove the current restrictions that make it easier for Africans to travel across Europe than within Africa itself, we would not be able to take full advantage of the opportunities that abound within our continent. Development of critical transport and logistics infrastructure must complement trade policy as a priority intervention, to enhance the integration of countries into the African Value Chain. A research conducted by OECD in 2014 on Base Erosion and Profit Shift found that 0-10 percent of total trade cost is accounted for by tariffs, 10-30 percent by physical trade cost while 60-90 percent is by non-tariff related costs such as trade procedures, regulatory environment, currency fluctuations and availability of communication services.
  5. Perhaps the most remarkable progress in improving African interconnectivity so far, was announced last week when 23 African countries launched the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM). The International Air Transport Association (IATA) had earlier estimated that liberalizing air transport routes for only 12 African countries would create more than 150,000 jobs and boost the continent’s GDP by $1.3billion. We can therefore estimate that the benefits of this particular initiative, which is in fulfillment of the African Union 1999 decision, would even yield greater dividends with the added benefit of direct flights between African countries, which, believe it or not, hitherto involved stopovers in the Middle East or Europe. This single air market is coming not long after several African countries agreed to ease visa requirements for African nationals. By the time the remaining 32 countries join up in the open air agreements, the benefits to the African economy would be immense.
  6. In the National Assembly, our Legislative Agenda has a very strident economic focus, to help remove impediments to the value chain, and some of these efforts have already seen Nigeria move up 24 places in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Report 2018. The Nigerian Senate’s Made-In-Nigeria Initiative is intended to help stimulate the production of goods locally, and to get Nigerians to embrace the same, thereby moving away from the previous fixation on imported good. The Public Procurement (Amendment) Bill makes it compulsory for all government agencies to procure products and services from Nigerian manufacturers and vendors in the first instance; they may only go to a foreign supplier when local options have been exhausted. The Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) makes provision for the regulation of SMSEs as well as greater access to credit. These are just a few of the many legislative interventions of the National Assembly so far, with many more in the works.

 

  1. Fashion, construction and ICT are all massive job creation sectors. However, unless we develop real capacity for value addition in a way that enables Africa to take charge of the production process, others would continue to derive greater benefits from the talent and opportunities that abound in our continent while our youth go without. One of the major issues in this regard is access to credit, which remains critical in entering, establishing, or moving up value chains. The various regional and sub-regional development banks are markers of Africa’s commitment to home grown credit. However, broad based financial inclusion remains a challenge, and limited access to credit and financial services will continue to threaten any efforts at poverty eradication and promotion of real entrepreneurship among our youths. Strengthening financial inclusion must therefore remain at the top of our regional political agenda. Although the financial sector in Africa has witnessed remarkable improvement over the past decade especially in countries like South Africa, a lot of countries are still very limited. SMEs are less likely to have access to loans than their counterparts outside of the continent. As governments, our focus should be to increase access and lower cost of financing as well as ensuring that we develop functioning financial systems that can increase the number of potential trading partners and volume of trade. In addition, we must begin to think of financial system development strategies that will encourage further competition between players in the sector as well as introducing policies that limit collateral requirement and reduce credit information gaps.
  2. Harnessing the opportunity that comes with participating in regional production networks can accelerate African economic transformation, particularly through the gains associated with enhanced productivity, skills development, and diversification of exports. However, the gains from Regional Value Chains and GVC participation are not automatic. Opportunity only means what is possible and not what will happen. These would require a broad set of policies with a particular focus on trade facilitation, investment, transport infrastructure, and access to finance. But beyond these, it would require a critical mass of political leaders on the continent with capacity to think globally, act locally and understands what it truly mean to be a leader on the African continent in a globalized world.

 

  1. The continent is yearning for leadership not only in government but also in commerce. Local talent is yearning for partnership and collaboration with talented, capable people such as yourself to realise the hopes of the growing youth population.

 

 

THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE

Federal Republic of Nigeria

LECTURE DELIVERED BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, CON, MBBS, ON ‘SEPARATION OF POWERS AND NATIONAL SECURITY IN NIGERIA: AN APPRAISAL’ AT THE NATIONAL DEFENCE COLLEGE, ABUJA, ON TUESDAY, JANUARY 30, 2018

LECTURE DELIVERED BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, CON, MBBS, ON ‘SEPARATION OF POWERS AND NATIONAL SECURITY IN NIGERIA: AN APPRAISAL’ AT THE NATIONAL DEFENCE COLLEGE, ABUJA, ON TUESDAY, JANUARY 30, 2018.

PROTOCOL.

1. It is my honour to be delivering this lecture at the NationalDefence College (NDC), an important institution in the nation’s security architecture, and a crucible in which thebest of our military and paramilitary officers are forged. I thank the Commandant of the National Defence College, Rear Admiral AA Osinowo, for the invitation extended to me to speak on ‘Separation of Powers and National Security in Nigeria: An Appraisal’.

2. I understand that this lecture is part of the Strategy, Statecraft and National Security Block of NDC Course 26; and that participants are drawn from the Armed Forces of Nigeria, the Nigeria Police Force, strategic Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) – as well as candidatesfrom 16 Armed Forces across the African continent – and countries further afield, namely: India, Bangladesh and Germany. I thank you all for being here. I shall try to do my best to do justice to the subject.

3. The title of this lecture is a most engaging one, and it is gratifying to be accorded the privilege of delivering it, not least because, as President of the Senate and Chairman of the National Assembly by the grace of God – and, considering the arc of my legislative journey thus far – it would not be outlandish to suggest that I may have a fairly involved perspective on Separation of Powers in Nigeria at this historical moment. Therefore, I take it as a point of duty to share my insights on the broad theme, and then – with any luck – to anchor those insights in the intersection between the doctrine as applicable in Nigeria, and the hot button issue of National Security.

4. It is my hope that this lecture will serve as a timely reminder regarding the core principles of Separation of Powers. For it does appear, on occasion, as though we are in need of reminding, in order to better appreciate just how pivotal the doctrine is to our system of government, to democracy – and crucially in these testy times – to national security. I say this because we seem to be labouring under a serious misapprehension on that front. For one, it jars when the National Assembly strives to carry out its legislative functions as mandated by the Constitution, only to be met with discordant tunes or administrative intransigence. I am not certain that we are sufficiently mindful of the simple fact that the National Assembly is not some rubber-stamp of executive action. Quite the contrary, the Legislature is a co-equal of the Executive and the Judiciary.

5. As a take-off point, I will touch on the structure, composition and function of the National Assembly – and then go on toexpound on the doctrine of Separation of Powers itself. I will also seek to locate the discourse within the ambit of national security, with a view to exploring the permutations thereof. My own narrative will also be brought to bear, toilluminate the subject matter with lived experience as well as current realities. There is theory and there is practice, and then there is the ideal that we ought to strive for. Thislecture will encompass theory, practice and the ideal – because Separation of Powers is important to democracy, and democracy is important to the stability of Nigeria.

6. While the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (Amended) provides for a vertical Separation of Powers as replicated at the State and Local Government levels, I will – for the purposes of this lecture – address my mind to the federal level in the main. Nigeria operates a Presidential system of government, and the 1999 Constitution, in bequeathing us this system, took its inspiration from the American system. This is quite distinct from the Parliamentary system which is run by the former colonial power, Britain – where there is more of a fusion, rather than separation of the powers exercised by the three arms of government. UK Prime Minister Theresa May is a member of the House of Commons, the lower house of the British Parliament. The entire UK Cabinet comprises members of Parliament; and the Lord Chancellor is in fact a member of all three arms of government. As for the Prime Minister, she is not personally voted in by the electorate; and heads the government because her party won the majority at the polls.

7. Not so in our Presidential system, in which the head of government, at the apex of the Executive arm, is directly voted in by the electorate. He is also the head of state, unlike in Britain where that role resides in the monarch.Nigeria operates a bicameral legislature – comprising an upper house, the Senate, with 109 members; and a lower house, the Federal House of Representatives, with 360 members. Together, they constitute the National Assembly, now in its 8th incarnation, its entire members voted in by the Nigerian people.

8. Therefore, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, our Presidential system has at its core the principle of ‘Trias Politica’ – otherwise known as Separation of Powers, the corollary of which is the Rule of Law. We hear the Rule of Law cited often enough – many like to pay lip service to it but only a precious few demonstrate the commitment to truly uphold it. But what exactly is the Rule of Law? What does it do, what does it include, and what does it occlude?

9. The NGO Statement to the Consultative Group Meeting on Cambodia on Good Governance (2000) had something to say about this, declaring that: “Adherence to the Rule of Law is a fundamental precondition for the realisation of development in all sectors. The absence of the Rule of Law continues to constrain market development, public confidence in the legal sector, and the security and general well-being of the people. A competent and independent judiciary, is development. The lack of judicial independence and high level of corruption impedes people’s confidence in formal conflict resolution and encourages reliance on informal and sometimes violent means of dispute resolution. Moreover, [it] discourages foreign investment.”

10. Permit me to state that the foregoing is one persuasive argument for why we must do everything in our powerenthrone the Rule of Law, whatever the dispensation. Justice Oputa acknowledged as much when, in his Supreme Court judgement in Government of Lagos State vs. Ojukwu, he stated as follows: “I can safely say that here in Nigeria even under a military government, the law is no respecter of persons, principalities, governments or powers; and that the court stands between the citizens and the government, alert to see that [the government] is bound by the law and respects the law.” Justice Oputa further averred that the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary are equal partners in running a successful government.

11. Sections 4, 5 and 6 of the 1999 Constitution laid the foundation for the tripartite system of governance we currently operate, and further mapped out the delineation in the associated functions. Section 4 relates to the Legislature; and Sub-section One (1) provides that: “The legislative powers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be vested in the National Assembly for the federation, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.” Section 4 (2) further stipulates that: “The National Assembly shall have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the federation or any part thereof with respect with any matter included in the exclusive legislative list set out in Part I of the Second Schedule of the Constitution.”

12. I recall the line in John Donne’s famous poem that says, ‘No man is an island entire of itself’. In the same vein, power does not reside in its entirety in any one person or arm of government. This is informed by the fundamental notion that every man is equal under the law and no one is above the law; therefore, each organ of government can only act within the ambit allowed by the Constitution. As the 19thcentury English politician, Lord Acton, declared, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” No self-respecting secondary school student of Government will ever forget that immortal line. But, I am saying, this is precisely the reason why we have Separation of Powers: to ensure accountability, prevent autocracy and dictatorship;and to uphold freedoms. For where there is autocracy or dictatorship, there can be no freedom. In view of the corrupting nature of power, therefore, it becomes necessary for power to be checked by power in order to enthrone freedom and liberty. The objective is not to set the basis for rivalry between the three arms of government but to ensure accountability; therefore, the power of the state is exercised for the benefit of the people – and this became the basis for the democratic principles of Separation of Powers.

13. The fourth U.S. President, James Madison, gave us one of the greatest articulations of the doctrine, in Federalist 51, saying: “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed, and in the next place oblige it to control itself.” He observed further that the quest to achieve this involves a process of: “Contriving an interior structure of the government as that its several constituent parts may, by their mutual relations, be the means of keeping each other in their places.”

14. Encapsulated within this framing of the doctrine of Separation of Powers, is the system of Checks and Balances, a regulatory mechanism, the overall goal of which – according to foremost constitutional lawyer Prof. Ben Nwabueze, “is to maximise the ultimate goal and objective of governance including welfare and development of the people.”

15. Consequently, we as the Legislature make the laws, but those laws require presidential assent to propel them into the statute books. We exercise oversight functions over agencies of government; clear federal ministers and other top officials nominated by the President; oversee the national Budget and we have the power to impeach – just as the President may also exercise his veto – and so on. Notably, the Executive arm of government, at the apex of which is the President, is responsible for ensuring peace and security. Separation of Powers and the concomitant Checks and Balances enable the Legislature to ensure that national security is properly maintained for peace and development – and for the public good. I make bold to say that this function of the Legislature becomes even more of an imperative at the present time in which restiveness and agitation seem to be omnipresent. Through its interpretation of laws and administration of the system of justice, the Judiciary also exercises Checks and Balances on the other two arms of government – just as the Judiciary itself is subject to similar from its co-equals.

16. When James Madison expounded that, “The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny” – he and other founding fathers of the American nation were drawing on the work of Baron Montesquieu(1689–1755) as propounded in The Spirit of Laws (De L’espirit des Lois) in 1748. The French philosopher, in turn, took his inspiration from the earlier writings of John Locke on the English Parliament. As Locke wrote in his ‘Second Treatise of Civil Government’ (1690) – “It may be too great a temptation to human frailty, apt to grasp at power, for the same person who has the power of making laws, to have also in their hand the power to execute them, whereby they may exempt themselves from obedience to the laws they made and suit the law, both in its making and execution, to their own private advantage.”

17. Some of the earliest formulations of Separation of Powers stemmed from the disillusionment in Europe hinged on the notion that the Crown had failed to ensure liberty. Let me now turn squarely to the Nigerian situation, drawing on the 8th Senate’s and my own experience as applicable. Nwabueze offered some significant commentaries on Separation of Powers in the Nigerian context. He has on at least one occasion come out of retirement to defend the doctrine as a key feature of democratic government. Nwabueze is also on record for calling for the sanctity of the ‘hallowed chamber’ that is the Senate to be respected – because he recognised the potential for abuse of power if this were not the case. As he once noted: “Concentration of government powers in the hands of one individual is the very definition of dictatorship and absolute power is by its very nature arbitrary, capricious and despotic.” This reference essentially draws from the premise that Separation of Powers relies heavily on the sanctity and integrity of the institutions acting always independently,without one unduly infringing on the other’s judgement or internal cohesion.

18. We in the Legislature, as representatives of the people, striveto carry out our oversight functions in line with the doctrine of Separation of Powers – because it is our duty as stipulated by the Constitution. We also do so to guard against Lockean ‘human frailty’ – by which I mean the tendency towards abuse of power, where such power is absolute. To one’s chagrin, however, our actions are often misconstrued, because few understand that the Legislative arm of government is not a rubber-stamp, driven from pillar to post by the whims and caprices of another organ of government. Let all listening to me today note the unassailable position, which is this: the Executive, the Judiciary and the Legislature are co-equals; none is subordinate to the other. Indeed, as former Senate President Ken Nnamani once opined, “The Legislature and the Executive are co-managers of the economy.”

19. Each arm of government is intended and designed to be free of coercive influence from another. But, regrettably, that is not always the case, in practice, in the Nigerian experiment. Section 60 of the 1999 Constitution provides that: “Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the Senate and the House of Representatives shall have the power to regulate its own procedure, including the procedure for summoning and recess of the House.”

20. The press is replete with stories of ‘face-offs’ between the Legislature and Executive, real or imagined. These include unguarded pronouncements by a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) – and other government officials – concerning the Senate; or the refusal of the heads of some government agencies to answer when summoned by us. The refusal of the Senate to confirm certain nominees of Mr. President has drawn undeserved ire in many quarters; these are people who misconstrue the role of the legislative arm, because we are perfectly within our bounds under the Nigerian constitution. In any case, if the Senate confirms two nominees and rejects one –should we be seen as attacking the Executive? Or, should we notask whether there are weighty questions to answer on the part of the nominee? Why is the Legislature vilified when the occasional nominee fails to scale through?

21. We really should ask ourselves the tough questions, rather than parroting the fallacy about the Legislature not playing along with the Executive. Ask yourself what kind of democracy we would have if all powers resided solely in one arm of government. That is why I sometimes marvel at the hypocrisy of some vociferous voices who claim that they are fighting for democracy and yet they keep quiet when one arm of government repeatedly imposes its will on the judgement of a co-equal arm of government.

22. Democracy and the Rule of Law depend on four elements – deliberation, engagement, participation and collaboration.The constitution says that if you want to wage war or call out troops you must go to the National Assembly and you don’t – is that in tandem with Separation of Powers? Even in the United States that we modelled our system on, the White House must engage with Congress in the formulation of critical policies on security and defence. If the constitution prescribes who may be appointed into certain positions and you flout that – should the Legislature not take a stand in the public interest? Or the fact that one judge is believed to be corrupt – does that justify one arm of government breaking down the doors of members of anindependent Judiciary? American judges have blocked many Executive Orders made by President Donald Trump, including those on the Muslim Travel Ban, Immigration and Sanctuary Cities. Despite Mr. Trump’s frenetic twitter activity voicing his displeasure, the judges’ rulings stand – because the Judiciary is free from the coercive influence of the Executive.

23. The travails of the Nigerian Legislature have unfolded under the cloud of many challenges confronting the nation. Theseonly serve to destabilise government, and cannot be good for national security. In a country that is an amalgam of some 250 ethnic nationalities under one flag, unhealthy rivalries are a symptom of systemic distress, for the avoidance of which Separation of Powers was propounded.

24. There is also an international dimension, particularly in the West African sub-region. A breakdown in the balancing act resulted in the ceding of the Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon on August 14, 2008 – without other arms of government being carried along as prescribed. Today, Southern Cameroon is boiling and the inhabitants are looking to Nigeria for some solution. 43,000 refugees have already entered Nigeria from Cameroon. This developing situation can only serve to further exacerbate the already grievous humanitarian crises in the sub-region, and the forming of potential new breeding grounds for terrorist groups.

25. A successful regime of Separation of Powers would require much more than enacting more laws and amending existing ones. It would require the active compliance with the doctrine from all arms of government. As the Legislature, we would require the Executive to give due regard to legal decisions, invitations and resolutions of the National Assembly. Let me quickly add that we will hold ourselves to the same rules vis-a-vis our co-equals.

26. Going forward, we have set up a Committee headed by the Vice President to look into ways of improving the relationship between the Legislature and the Executive; and indeed, it is increasingly apparent that relations have improved greatly, although there is still much to be done. The joint presentation of the Budget to both Houses, now done for two years in a row, is evidence of cordiality between the two arms of government. This is the way forward. After all, when there is a cold war between two arms of government, who loses out? The country loses out– in terms of stability, governance, development, peace and security. We must also always keep in mind the fact that the ultimate Check and Balance is exercised by one party – the people – at the ballot box.

27. Happily, Separation of Powers makes room for efficient conflict resolution. and we would have gone some way in that direction in general in this country, if we strive to tackle or achieve some lingering challenges, including the following:

• Better management of the various ethnic nationalities by fostering peaceful co-existence and encouraging mutual trust among them;
• Objective discussion and appraisal of Nigerian history without resorting to primordial instincts;
• Minimising the politics of ethnic enclaves that breed nepotism;
• Reduction of poverty; and equitable distribution of wealth, employment generation and infrastructural development with an even spread across the country.

28. There is a need to create greater awareness about the inherent principles separating the three arms of government, such that, when the National Assembly next beams the searchlight on the use of funds appropriated for fighting the insurgency – or funds intended to provide succour to internally displaced citizens- some will not look at us askance – and those who would arrogate absolute power to themselves, will not go up in arms against the Senate. It is a balancing act, as implied by Checks and Balances, and we will continue to do our best to fulfil our role according to the Constitution.

29. Despite the clarity and gravity of the Constitution on the independence of the Legislature, the Deputy Senate President and I have been subject to prosecution over the internal affairs of the Senate. The way we are elected and our processes – we are independent. It was therefore foolhardy of government to mount such prosecution. The courts have ruled multiple times that the National Assembly’s internal affairs are inviolable – and yet, what we saw was a ready willingness to cross the line and mount a case, in a flagrant overreach of executive power. Let me say that I view this as a distraction and a legal affront to the principles of Separation of Powers.

30. From the outset, on my assumption to the position of Nigeria’s President of the Senate, I have had to endure court cases even at these pressing times in our national life, when all our energies should be geared towards development. Through all this, I have respected the constitutional mandate of the Judiciary and appeared in court on several occasions, trusting that I would be vindicated, because I believe in the Rule of Law. These are some of the sacrifices we make, and what we go through, so that these institutions can be strong. It is not about individuals but about institutions of government, so as to strengthen democracy.

31. The way forward, having recognised the necessary value that Separation of Power brings to the strengthening of our democracy, it is important then that we chart a course that ensures that the inviolability of our institutions becomes a mandate for the protection of our democracy. I repeat, it is not about the individual; it is about the institution if we are to ensure the survival of our democracy. Therefore, the constitution itself has made provision for the process of the removal or appointment of the leadership of these institutions, in order to ensure that the integrity of the institution remains inviolable. The key purpose here is not the protection of the individuals who occupy these offices temporarily but rather, the protection of our democratic norms.

32. So, for everyone here today, there is really a choice to be made. We have to decide whether or not we really want democracy. We cannot have it both ways. I always say that, today, we have an honest and transparent President – but it is no reason not to defend the principles of Separation of Powers – for who is to say what the next occupier of that office will be like? We fight today with an eye on posterity, in order that the future may be more assured

OPENING REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY, DISTINGUISHED SENATOR (DR) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, CON, MBBS, AT THE OCCASION OF THE PUBLIC HEARING BY THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON PETROLEUM DOWNSTREAM ON THE SUBSIDY PAYMENT BY NNPC ON MONDAY 29TH JANUARY 2018.

OPENING REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY, DISTINGUISHED SENATOR (DR) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, CON, MBBS, AT THE OCCASION OF THE PUBLIC HEARING BY THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON PETROLEUM DOWNSTREAM ON THE SUBSIDY PAYMENT BY NNPC ON MONDAY 29TH JANUARY 2018.

It is my pleasure to be declaring open this very critically important public hearing by the Senate Committee on Petroleum Downstream on the Subsidy Payment by NNPC.

For years, our country has been plagued with the issue of fuel subsidy and for too long, a scheme designed to reduce the burden on the poor has become the cash cow of a few who continue to milk the country dry in trillions under a process so opaque and insulated from public scrutiny called fuel subsidy.

You would recall that it was only after my motion on the 5th of March 2012, with the support of my colleagues in the 7thSenate and after a thorough review and investigation of the scheme we unearthed the monumental fraud bigger than our capital budget for a year going on in the name of fuel subsidy.five years down the line we are back on the same matter. This is not acceptable and we are determined to get to the bottom of it.

Distinguished colleagues, the mere fact that we are here again today to discuss this issue shows that those who benefit from this grand deception are not willing to let loose and government have not done what we need to do to nip this problem in the bud.

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, this Senate had cut short the end of year recess of this committee to immediately intervene and investigate the root causes of the recent resurfacing of queues at pump stations nationwide. The findings of the committee have brought to light the fact that our downstream oil and gas industry needs critical reforms. It has exposed among other things that in spite of the stoppage of the fuel subsidy regime, and the non-appropriation of fundsfor the scheme due to the fraud and maladministration going on in the scheme, that fuel subsidy payments continue to be paid from our commonwealth illegally and without appropriation by the National Assembly to a few quietly in order to dodge scrutiny and avoid exposure. But this 8thSenate is here to expose every corruption in the system irrespective of how highly place those involved are and therefore the reason for this public hearing today.

This unconstitutional and illegal practice must be addressed and we are not going to rest until it is fully addressed.

It is the duty of this committee to get to the bottom of this issue and proffer long lasting solutions to this racketeering in the fuel market that leaves the Nigerian people poorer every year.

Other questions this committee must seek answers to are;

(1) What is the actual quantity of fuel the Nigerian market consumes?

(2) What are the underlining reasons why the market is struggling to operate without government intervention, in other words why the reoccurring scarcity?

(3) Third and equally crucial is the process and all those involved in signing out unbudgeted funds outside the budget passed by the National Assembly.

This hearing today spotlights the importance of the recently passed Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB), which after many years and several obstacles faced, has been passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives for the first time in 17year and is ready for the assent of Mr. President.

It is our belief that this piece of legislation if implemented to the letter has the potential of eliminating the present distortions in the system and sanitise the governance of the oil and gas industry of corruption and the rot in the system.

It will introduce the market competition that would bring efficiency to the system. It is our hope that this will set the tone for the necessary institutional reform required to clean this all important industry of opacity and maladministration.

Before I close my remark, let me implore the committee to ensure that they carryout a comprehensive investigation of these issues and advise the Senate on appropriate steps to take to make sure that never again are we going to be back here discussing these issues anymore and Nigerians will no longer be queuing to buy fuel at the pump stations ever again.

I am glad that everyone in this room has an interest in stamping out fuel scarcity from our market; we are united to stamping out fraud and corruption in the industry. Therefore, I thank you again for taking time to be here this morning and I look forward to your active participation and what will no doubt be thought-provoking discussions.

With this few words let me formally declare this public hearing open.

God bless you all.

PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE

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